Flick Review < Gabriel | Agnes Martin (1976)

Flick Review < Gabriel | Agnes Martin (1976)
Agnes2BMartin 1
Agnes Martin, Gabriel, 1976
16 mm, color, sound, 78 minutes. Courtesy Pace Gallery / ARS © Estate of Agnes Martin
Gabriel (1976) is the only film by the Canadian-American painter Agnes Martin.
It is 78 minutes in length, and features a little boy going for a walk in a natural landscape.
The film is silent, apart from seven moments at which excerpts from Bach’s
Goldberg Variations come in for two or three minutes at a time.
The boy was played by Peter Mayne, who was from Cuba, New Mexico
(where Martin lived at the time). Martin referred to Mayne as ‘a little hippie boy’
and noted that though he looks about ten years old, he was in fact fourteen.
Gabriel was filmed in various locations in the American Southwest, including
California, Colorado and New Mexico.

Agnes Martin near her house in Cuba, New Mexico, 1974
photograph by Gianfranco Gorgoni


On the title of the film, the artist noted that she chose an angel’s name to
represent innocence. Martin said she wanted to make a film
“about happiness and innocence. I’ve never seen a movie or read a story that was 
absolutely free of any misery. And so, I thought I would make one. The whole 
thing is about a little boy who has a day of freedom, in which he feels free.”


“Agnes Martin is a great painter and whatever she does has an importance.
Her film is no great cinema, that I have to state at the outset. But it is a very beautiful film.
[…] Agnes Martin’s film is about water, about countryside, flowers, nature, and mystery.”


Jonas Mekas
reviewed it in his ‘Movie Journal’ column in the Soho Weekly News


Variations | Glenn Gould, 1956

1 thought on “Flick Review < Gabriel | Agnes Martin (1976)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *