Knox Martin

American, b. 1923

SOLD Abstraction, oil on paper laid on canvas, 7 1/2 x 14 1/2 inches

Edge No. 2, 1964, oil and collage on canvas, 26 x 18 inches


Knox Martin was a regular at the Cedar Bar in the 1950s, where his friends were Franz Kline, Charles Egan, and especially Willem de Kooning, who Martin has said was the only person to share his views.  Robert Rauschenberg was also a fellow student at the Art Students League; the two shared a studio and Rauschenberg often referred to Martin as his mentor.  The Charles Egan Gallery in New York City celebrated its tenth anniversary in 1954 with a Knox Martin show.

Martin’s strong relationships with Kline and de Kooning are evident in his energetic brush strokes and sensuous gestures of the paint surface.  His paintings of the 1960s appear to be non-objective, but they actually depict sexual, erotic imagery that is far from abstract.  He refers to his own art as Synthetic Realism, saying that “the same images always come back again…I want to make them new.  There is a stream of reality.  The only difference is the manner in which it is represented.”

In the face of the minimalist trend, Martin continued to play with geometry and neon-like color.  By the 1970s, he further refined his aesthetic and focused on a theme and reverence for the eroticism of women.   He was strongly influenced by the Venetian painter Titian, who he feels “relied on artistic intuition rather than being an engineer to spatial construction and literal representation.”

Martin has taught art at the Yale Graduate School of Arts, the Arts Student League, and various master classes.