Fletcher Martin Biography

Fletcher Martin




Fletcher Martin, painter, printmaker, muralist, illustrator and teacher, was born in Palisades, Colorado on April 19, 1904. He was one of seven children of newspaperman Clinton Martin and his wife Josephine. The family relocated to Idaho and later Washington. By the age of twelve he was working as a printer. He dropped out of high school and held odd jobs such as lumberjack and professional boxer. He served in the U.S. Navy, 1922-26.

Martin was a pupil of the Stickney Memorial School of Art in Los Angeles and soon gained a reputation for his paintings of the San Francisco waterfront, rodeos and boxing matches.  The subjects for his work were culled from his earlier careers as a boxer, lumberjack and printer.  After serving in the Navy, Martin settled in Los Angeles around 1926. He worked as a printer in Los Angeles in the late 1920s, and as an assistant to Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros in the early 1930s. He taught at local art schools such as Otis Art Institute and in 1936, he received several mural commissions from the WPA for whom he painted a mural study for the Kellogg, Idaho post office titled Mine Rescue (1939). Local industrialists objected that it depicted the dangers of mining, while officials of the Mine & Smelt Workers Union praised it. The industrialists prevailed and Martin painted an uncontroversial mural, Discovery (1941), depicting the prospector who founded the town.

Martin taught at the Art Center School in Los Angeles beginning in 1938; he continued teaching for three decades at various schools, including Mills College, Otis Art Institute, Claremont College, Kansas City Art Institute and the University of Florida.

He was elected an Associate of the National Academy of Design in 1969. Martin's work is represented in the collections of the Library of Congress, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Metropolitan Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Art, Denver Art Museum and the Houston Art Museum.

Fletcher Martin died on May 30, 1979 in Guanajuato, Mexico.