Lifetime of Devotion: The Art of Fred Martin


Fred Martin was an outstanding painting professor and scholar who worked at the San Francisco Art Institute for over 50 years, during which he served as the President of the San Francisco Art Institute for over 20 years. He was a renowned painter, art critic, and art educator in the United States, and was also one of the important figures in American modernist abstract painting.

        Early in his career, he studied painting with renowned artists such as David Park, Mark Rothko, and Clifford Still at the San Francisco Art Institute. His works seem to embody the philosophy of color in geometric abstraction and the rhythmic form of musical notes, as well as the romantic abstraction that expresses naivety and fun. The inner spirit of the works materializes into shapes and lines with the use of lines and colors to convey the harmony of forms and their relationships, which is enough to touch and shock the viewer. In a strict sense, this is not just the result of superb painting skills, Martin’s painting is based on the principle of being able to touch the human soul, mainly by returning to the “original” innocence and finding the true expression through his works. Viewers can also see the “traces” of the cross-influence of these early works by his mentors, but that is just a “trace”. His works have a unique imagination that is both “familiar” and “new”. The free-form lines, shapes, and colors are harmonious in the multi-dimensional space of the picture, making the energy they release extraordinary. His compositions are full of passionate biological energy, with unique and individual watercolor blending, and you can still find more colorful new aesthetics features in these decades- old “original” works.

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