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. His family relocated to the East Bay when he was a child, where he was raised in Alameda and Oakland. Martin studied at the University of California at Berkeley where he received his B.A. degree in 1949 and M.A. 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 (his was the featured artwork at The Six when poet Allen Ginsberg first read his poem 'Howl'). He also exhibited at the Spatsa and Dilexi galleries, which, along with The Six, 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, a post he held until 1975. He later became 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 assembled 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.

Fred Martin retired from teaching in 2016 and continued to work in his Oakland, California studio. Fred died in Berkeley, Califormia on October 8, 2022.

Selected solo exhibitions:
First solo exhibition, organized by Contemporary Gallery in Sausalito, California in 1949

Six Gallery, San Francisco (1955; 1956; 1957)
Oakland Museum of California (1958)
Dilexi Gallery, San Francisco (1961; 1967; 1968)
Minami Gallery, Tokyo (1963)
M.H. de Young Memorial Museums, San Francisco (1964)
Royal Marks Gallery, New York (1965; 1966; 1968)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1973)
San Jose Museum of Art (1980)
College of Art, Shanghai University, China (1995)
Retrospective, Oakland Museum of California (1993)
China Academy of Art Museum, Hangzhou, China (2017)
Fred Martin Beulah Land, Crown Point Press (2019)

Selected group exhibitions:
"Paintings by Sam Francis, Wally Hedrick and Fred Martin; Sculpture by Wally Hedrick and Manuel Neri," San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1959)
"Places-A Collaboration of Four Artists: John Caplans, Wally Hedrick, Fred Martin and Daniel Shapiro" San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1962)
Arts of San Francisco: Painting and Sculpture, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1962)
"Corridor: Fred Martin, Roy De Forest, Tony Delap, Nell Sinton," San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

"Current Painting and Sculpture of the Bay Area," Stanford Museum, Stanford University (1964)

"Painters Behind Painters," California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco (1967)
"Extraordinary Realities" Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1973)

"Brooklyn Museum Print Biennial," (1975)
"Directions in Bay Area Painting: A Survey of Three Decades," Richard L. Nelson Gallery, University of California, Davis (1984)

"Oh How Much It Hurt: Fred Martin and Friends in the Fifties," Ever Gold Gallery (2014)
"Way Bay", Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, California (2018)