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Artist as AuthorAction and Intent in Late-Modernist American Painting$
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Christa Noel Robbins

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780226752952

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226753003.001.0001

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Conclusion: Gridlocked

Conclusion: Gridlocked

(p.142) 6. Conclusion: Gridlocked
Artist as Author

Christa Noel Robbins

University of Chicago Press

This concluding chapter looks at the function of the grid in relation to authorial intention. Analyzing Agnes Martin’s highly personal use of the grid, alongside Rosalind Krauss’s description of the “grid’s mythic power” in the history of Modernist painting, this chapter challenges a strictly structuralist reading of the grid. In working with the grid, Martin used that idiom most frequently associated with the author’s death. After first historicizing the strong link that is assumed between the grid and the death of the author thesis through an analysis of Aspen Magazine’s “Minimalism Issue,” where Barthes’s essay was first published, the history of the grid in 1960s practice is complicated by taking seriously Martin’s insistence that she was Abstract Expressionist. In doing so, this chapter offers a unique account of the grid as a mechanism by which an author’s place in the Modernist field could be asserted. Tracking Martin’s very careful self-presentation as a definitely Modernist painter, from her earliest exposure to Modernist art in Manhattan in the 1940s, through her time in New Mexico, and into her institutional framing as a minimalist painter in the late 1960s, Martin is positioned as a knowing subject, actively fashioning herself within the Modernist identity

Keywords:   Abstract Expressionism, Aspen Magazine, Roland Barthes, death of the author, grid, Rosalind Krauss, Agnes Martin, New Mexico, structuralism

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