Henry Martin 


“Something genuinely rare … an extraordinarily vivid and intimate portrait of one of the most enigmatic personalities of postwar US art – a portrait that is as eloquent as it is gratifying…” Klaus Ottmann, The Art Newspaper


"In this revelatory account of the artist’s personal life ... Henry Martin offers readers an intimate look at the life and work of this ambitious figure." Amber C. Snider, Culture Trip


“No other book on Agnes Martin has been researched as thoroughly and honestly as Agnes Martin: Pioneer, Painter, Icon. Its sensitive and poetic nature makes it a must read for those truly interested in understanding the artist.” Jina Brenneman, Curator, "Agnes Martin: Before The Grid", Harwood Museum, 2012


"Rich, clear, detailed, and wide-ranging, I enjoyed Agnes Martin: Pioneer, Painter, Icon greatly." Lee Hall, author, Betty Parsons: Artist, Dealer, Collector


"[This] new book beautifully illuminates the challenges of lesbian relationships at a time when women could never exist publicly as a unit..." Out Magazine


"Including never-before-published interviews with family, friends and curators, a comprehensive and revealing new biography of the US artist regarded as one of the greatest female artists of the 20th century." The Bookseller


"A heartfelt examination of the enigmatic artist, thoughtfully tying together the complex person and her abstract, singular art ... the book admirably places Agnes’ powerful personality, complex sexuality, towering ambition, and difficult relationships in a shifting context of environment and time ... Fans of Agnes will have their understanding of the artist and her work pleasurably expanded, and for those who felt a distance from her paintings or are unfamiliar with them, Martin tells a story that’s hard to resist drawing you into the nearest museum ..." Torin Jensen, Atticus Review


"[Martin's] thorough research and poetic prose bring to light the struggles Agnes faced in order to find success as an artist and some semblance of peace in her life." Powells Books


"Martin traces the life of pioneering painter Agnes Martin from a tomboyish introvert growing up in rural Saskatchewan Canada in the 1920s to a world-renowned abstract expressionist." Publishers Weekly


"One of the most acclaimed painters of the 20th Century, Agnes Martin was also a reclusive lesbian who had complicated relationships with women, gender, and the schizophrenia that both inspired and threatened her creativity. This new biography explores those issues and delves into the decade Martin spent as part of a queer arts community." Jacob Anderson-Minshall, The Advocate


"Fascinating revelations about Martin’s early life in Canada." Robert Everett-Green, The Globe and Mail

‘One of America's least recognized masters of 20th-century abstraction,’ (The Economist),

AGNES MARTIN (1912–2004) now ranks among the great artists of the Twentieth Century. A new book, based on interviews with friends, family and lovers, explores her work – and, for the first time, her extraordinary life.


Canadian-born, Martin became a key figure in the male-dominated 1960s art world, creating abstract and geometric paintings that bridged the work of her contemporaries Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock, with that of a new generation of minimalists including Carl Andre and Eva Hesse. However, at the height of her career, Martin abandoned this success and New York. Recurring treatment (including shock treatment) for schizophrenia in the infamous Bellevue Hospital had taken its toll on the artist and she needed an escape: “I had to have time and nobody’s going to give you time where I was,” she said, “So I had to leave.”


For almost two years Martin travelled across the US and Canada before finally returning to New Mexico for inspiration, as Georgia O’Keeffe, D.H. Lawrence, Willa Cather, and many more had done before her. Here, Martin resumed her practice and went on to become an influence on a new generation of artists, including Rachel Whiteread and Zoe Leonard. For the next thirty years Martin was prolific, producing paintings on the themes of joy and happiness. Before she died in 2004, aged ninety-two, she had become, after an early life of hardship, “the greatest artist in the world,” recipient of the Venice Biennale Golden Lion Award (1997) and a Whitney Museum retrospective (1993).


In 2015, a major retrospective at Tate Modern introduced Martin’s work to a new generation for the first time in twenty years. While Martin’s work has been examined in previous books, her personal life has yet to be fully explored—until now.


Throughout her life, Martin’s gender, sexuality, profession, social status, and schizophrenia made her an outsider. Based on new interviews with Agnes Martin’s family, friends, and lovers, Henry Martin explores Martin’s outsider status and charts her story from the pioneer plains of Canada, to the desert of New Mexico and New York’s bohemian circles where her transformation from outsider to icon was hard-won.


Researched since 2013, Agnes Martin: Pioneer, Painter, Icon is certain to be a mainstay for readers of the arts, and admirers of the creative spirit. Revelatory accounts of the artist’s early life, combined with unpublished photographs from Martin’s family and friends, make this an essential biography on the artist.




Indie Bound

Barnes and Noble










2018 Foreward Reviews Book of the Year Award,

Finalist in Biography and LGBT categories click here


2019 Benjamin Franklin Silver Award click here


To celebrate Pride Month June 2019 you can download Chapter 9 "Coenties Slip, New York" by clicking here.