The Art of Fred Martin
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1986-91, The Time of Mourning
Romans and others, 1986.

 

Click here for 1987-89, Keeping and Giving
Click here for 1990, Old Tombs and Others
Click here for 1991, Ashes

 


 

On the last day of December 1985, I decided to return to my old images of Venice, the symbol for me of sensuality and the aging of time (click here for those), and the images of Rome which had been my eternity since the early 1950's.  I began with Venice in that ending of 1985 because it seemed old Venice would best represent the state of my dying senses in those years of mourning after my wife's death in November of 1983.  And, because I was--as I had been in the mid 1970's after my first ten years as Director of the College of SFAI--in the midst of a life of chaos and change, I went back to the system of "pre-established harmony" I had invented in 1974-5.

So the method for the spring of 1986 was to make a group of random watercolor sketches, make a colored ground to put them on, and make a grid for the "pre-established harmony" to put them in.  And because the etchings of Canaletto were an intrinsic part of my Venetian imagery, I used fragmentary photocopies of some of them in some of the paintings.  Same for Piranesi for the eternal ruins of Rome--whose work I had first seen in the original in the Bancroft Library at UCB when I was struggling for my teaching credential in 1951-2--and for which in 1986 I used photocopies from a book of Piranesi etchings Jean had given me for Christmas a year or two before she died.

All paintings are watercolor on paper, 39 x 24 inches

Click here for directory to all 1980's paintings.

Click here for directory to all paintings

 

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

 

 

 

The Romans...

 


Piranesi I
April 12, 1986

 

 


Piranesi II
June 22, 1986

Fragments of Life...

 

 


Rainbow Seed in Dark Heart (detail)
Undated in 1986
(Private Collection, Montreal, Canada)


Last of the Spring
Undated in 1986
(Collection Oakland Museum of California)

 

 


Old Dark Warm Mud
Undated in 1986

 


Months passed, the Venetian paintings ended more or less with the “Last Lesson.”  Spring came and I made a Piranesi, a picture of a flower (Rainbow Seed in Dark Heart, above), a picture of a golden ring on a black stele in a sunset sky (or was it a dawn?), and a picture of a branch of the Tree of Life (Last of the Spring, above) as sign of the season. 

The end of the spring semester came and I made my first trip to China.  I made Piranesi II when I got back, but after that my job at SFAI occupied my every waking second for about a year (we were going through one of our every ten year disaster/shakeups).  In 1987, I bought my first computer.  It had become possible for an individual to write, typeset, illustrate and print his own work, and I thought this would solve the foremost problem left me after that branch of the Tree of Life already more than a year before. The problem was that I had to keep my work—I felt that if I lost a single piece, the arch of my life would fall—but that for the confirmation of the art which was also my confirmation as a person, it had to be something people would like and want and have (yes, sure, it’s pathetic but true, “Love my art means love me.”).  But, for anyone to have a piece of my art would be my loss of that piece and would threaten with collapse my so precarious arch.  By making a computer-reproducible art, I could both give my art away and get love, and keep my art and so keep my life.  I made many pieces this way, combining computer printouts of text and simple pictures (my printer was 9 pin dot matrix and my scanner four inches wide and hand-held) with painting. 

The rest of the 1980's and the first two years of the 1990's were exclusively with this combination of computer printouts and painting.

 

1986-91, The Time of Mourning
Click here for Venetians, 1986.
Click here for 1987-89, Keeping and Giving

Click here for 1990, Old Tombs and Others
Click here for 1991, Ashes