The Art of Fred Martin
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A selection of paintings...
The Fourth Series of Large Acrylics,
To the Rainbow Bridge, 1969-70.
All paintings are acrylic on canvas, approx 87 x 64 inches
Images marked
** are described in the catalog for my 2003 Retrospective at the Oakland Museum of California. 
Click the
** to go to the description.
Click here for directory to all paintings

Scroll down for the paintings, click the image for a larger view.


In those days we were always talking about breakthroughs and how to get one.  By September of 1969 I had used up everything I could think of in my work, and if I didn’t have a breakthrough soon it was clear I should just quit.  Each time before with these big paintings, something had triggered a break out of the past into the future.  The first break had come from the failure of my Carpenter things and the challenge of “Bigness.”  Next had been the exhaustion of the Carpenter imagery and the re-arousal of Beulah Land.  Beulah Land had died but my art had come back with the man coming out of the lake, but that was over now, in September 1969 with yet another “been there, done that.” 

This time the breakthrough challenge came from listening to Van Cliburn pound his way through the last movement of Rachmaninoff’s 3rd Piano Concerto played way too loud on a Sunday morning in my studio.  There was a large canvas laying on the floor (I had been working with paintings mounted on the wall until then), and muddled all over with streaming lines.  Suddenly I saw in the negative spaces within the streams of lines not only all the plains, mountains and deserts of Central Asia which I had been thinking about, but also as I recorded in my notes “…a golden tree with birds perched among the branches.” #83, September 7, 1969 was the result.


It was another nine months and another twenty five or so big acrylic paintings made this way, until a month or so after #98, Rainbow Bridge, Violet—the mountain springs near Alexander’s Gate (there are five other paintings in the Rainbow Bridge group), my painting was, once again, over.  As I said in my notes for the painting #106, June 1970, “That’s all I can do, you can’t turn back.”  Between July 1967 and June 1970, there had been 106 big acrylic paintings.  I could not do anything else, but I could not make any more of those either.  To go on meant to make some new kind of work, the Dust of Paradise Harvest pastels of 1970-71.





** #83, September 7, 1969.
(Collection Oakland Museum)

#84, September 16, 1969.


#86, October 8, 1969.
"Old Marble."

#91a, December 1969.

#91b, December 30, 1969
#93, January 19, 1970.


  The Rainbow Bridge  

#93a, January 20, 1970.

#95, January 30, 1970.
(Private collection, Pacifica, California.)


#94, January 22, 1970.

#96, Undated February, 1970.
#97, Undated February 1970.

#98, Undated February 1970.
(Violet—the mountain springs near Alexander’s Gate.)




$104, May 26, 1970.


#105a, June 1, 1970.
#106, June 1970

"That's all I can do; you can't turn back."



Click here for the next series,
The Dust of Paradise Harvest, 1970-71.