Fred Martin Biography

Fred Martin




Fred Martin, painter, printmaker, art critic, author, educator, and arts administrator, was born in San Francisco, California on June 13, 1927, raised in Alameda, and moved to Oakland in the thirties.

He studied at the University of California at Berkeley where he received his B.A. degree in 1949 and M.A. degree in 1954. While at Berkeley, Martin studied under Erle Loran, Glenn Wessels, and Margaret O'Hagan. He later studied at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco with David Park, Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still. Fred Martin launched his career in San Francisco’s North Beach, exhibiting at the city’s avant-garde galleries including the Beat Generation gallery 'The Six', in San Francisco's North Beach, the gallery where Allan Ginsberg first read 'Howl'. He also exhibited at the Spatsa, and Dilexi, all of which prioritized artistic and personal exploration over identification with established artistic movements or financial success.

In 1954, Martin was hired by the Oakland Art Museum as registrar and worked there for four years. He joined the faculty of the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute), served as the gallery director, and was appointed director of the college in 1965 and held at that post until 1975. He is currently Emeritus Dean of Academic Affairs.

The first solo exhibition of his work was mounted in 1949 at the Contemporary Gallery in Sausalito, California and his was included that same year in a group exhibition of painting and sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. A retrospective exhibition was mounted in 2003 at the Oakland Museum of California and, in 2014, his work was highlighted in the exhibition Fred Martin and Friends in the Fifties: Oh How Much It Hurt at the Ever Gold Gallery in San Francisco.

Martin was a contributing editor to Artweek between 1976 and 1992. His artist’s books include Beulah Land, published by Crown Point Press in 1966; A Travel Book, published by Arion Press in 1977; and From an Antique Land, published in 1979 by Green Gates Press.

His work is represented in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Oakland Art Museum, the Richmond Art Center, the Crocker Art Museum, the Fogg Museum at Harvard University, and the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

Martin continues to work in his Oakland, California studio.