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In Search of Agnes Martin

In response to:

The Heroic Art of Agnes Martin from the July 14, 2016 issue

To the Editors:

I’m grateful for Hilton Als’s attention to my biography of Agnes Martin [“The Heroic Art of Agnes Martin,” NYR, July 14], although I’m not sure why he feels I missed an opportunity by declining to make things up. (“She does not enliven the narrative with the distracting what-ifs and maybes that can and often do give biographies a little oomph.” Strange criticism, to use Als’s word.) In any case, the great majority of enlivening (oomphing?) details in his own sympathetic and graceful summary of Martin’s life are to be found in my book. I’d also like to point out that I share his belief that Jasper Johns’s grids are relevant to Martin’s, and that I say so, though Als seems not to have noticed.

Nancy Princenthal
New York City

Hilton Als replies:

You can’t have everything.