No, today isn’t my birthday. It came to pass without incident some days ago. However, starting the night before my birthday, and for the entire happy day, whenever my Google Chrome browser opened a new tab, I was greeted with cupcakes. Should my cursor hover over them, the Happy Birthday, Valentina! would remind me that my life as I know it is over.
Since last night Google in my Chrome browser looks like this:
Unless this is your birthday, yours might look the same, if you have similar setup. Or it may not. At first, I thought I was some sort of a glitch — nothing screamed Google or Art! to me. The logo looked, well, somewhat dull and colorless. Too subtle, perhaps, for my simple tastes with predilection to a palette of basic colors.
When clicked, Google behaves as though I typed Agnes Martin as a search argument, although I didn’t. Honestly, of everything I’d wish to learn about in this life, Agnes Martin would be far down the list.
I‘m guessing that Google — after a long time of ogling my browsing history, perhaps in search of something really ugly — found out I display unhealthy interest in art. And it rewards itself by showing me just how much it knows. Today, as I learned, is Agnes Martin’s birthday. Should Agnes be alive today, her Google logo would’ve been Happy Birthday Agnes! leaping out of chocolate cake.
Still, if Google really fine-tuned its logo to suit my taste, it should have reminded me of entirely different crowd of birthday boys and girls:
- Maximilian I of Habsburg, German Emperor/archduke of Austria (1459)
- Kaiser Wilhelm I, German emperor (1797)
- Hedwig Elizabeth Charlotte of Holstein-Gottorp, Queen of Sweden and Norway (1759)
On the other hand, I’m glad Google was off in its guessing game. How long, I wonder, it takes Google to develop and evolve into a tool you’d be really-really scared of, but unable to get rid of…
Well, for now I’m stuck with saying something — if anything — about Agnes Martin. Because — god knows — Google might get mad at me and won’t wish me Happy Birthday next March (I’m highly optimistic to remain among the living until then).
Last month, on February 12, Alec Clayton had written an article Agnes Martin’s artistic evolution. Agnes Martin: The New York-Taos Connection” at the Tacoma Art Museum. Funny that Mr. Clayton — without ever recording and data-mining my search engine results– could so closely express MY opinion. And I quote:
I am about to say something that many lovers of modern art will consider downright sacrilegious. Here it is: I do not care for Agnes Martin’s paintings. Never have. To me they are boring, and the new show at Tacoma Art Museum has done nothing to change my mind. We have enough gray in the Pacific Northwest already.
That’s a statement of personal taste, not a reasoned critique; nevertheless, I can hear regular readers of this column readying their torches and pitchforks.
I know that Martin is a major figure in late 20th century art, I can appreciate her accomplishments, but her paintings do nothing for me.
Known for her sparse, reductive, grid paintings in subtle grays and white, Martin’s paintings are subtly and seductively expressive, combining elements of abstract expressionism, color field painting and hardedge abstraction into a personal vision. Here’s a quote from a show announcement (author unattributed): ” … her spare, reductive works in vaporous hues distinguish her as one of the key innovators in American abstraction.”
…Going from these early works to her later grid paintings, beginning in the early 1960s, was a major breakthrough, which established her as her own person with a unique vision.
Happy Birthday, Alice Martin! Google loves you. Or is it me Google loves?