Agnes Martin was born on March 22, 1912 in Macklin, Saskatchewan, Canada and grew up in Vancouver British Columbia. Martin moved to the United States in 1932 and became a citizen in 1940. She studied at Columbia University from 1941-1942 and again from 1951-1952. Martin moved to New Mexico where she studied at the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque, 1946 – 1947, and also taught painting from 1947 – 1948. Returning to New York in 1957, Martin settled in lower Manhattan where she met fellow artists Ellsworth Kelly, Jack Youngerman, Robert Indiana, and James Rosenquist.
Martin had her first solo exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, in 1958. Her work consisted of paintings on a rational grid system, influenced by the development of Minimalism. Martin's oeuvre often created a sense of delicacy, with the color floating off the canvas and a network of carefully penciled lines. Although classified as a Minimalist artist due to her emphasis on line, grids and field of extremely subtle color, Martin considered herself an Abstract Expressionist.
Surveys of Martin's work have been exhibited at venues including the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Menil Collection, Houston.
Agnes Martin died December 16, 2004 in Taos, New Mexico.