Martha Diamond



Often labeled as a Neo-Expressionist painter, Diamond is best known for cityscape abstractions in big, sweeping, gestural brush strokes. New York City is both her home and dominant art theme. Influenced by Japanese prints, Diamond often translates her work into print media. Her May 1996 visit to collaborate with Stewart & Stewart, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, resulted in four screenprint editions.

Buildings float on a sky of ethereal blue marks, moving the light diagonally in Air, a four-color screenprint. Hudson Group, a five-color screenprint, alludes to the artist's memory of buildings near the Hudson River. In Towers, a one-color screenprint, the repetitive patterns of the architecture create a sense of rhythm. The viewer's eyes and mind can respond to the monumentality of the towers. Vignettes, also a one-color screenprint, at first glance, seems to diverge from Diamond's usual focus on human-made structures. However, the images are specific roofscapes in New York City. All, except the secret man taking photographs, are carvings of birds, cherubs, and figurative sculptures. Diamond's renewed interest in drawing led her to extend her imagery to the figurative architectural elements, to use them later in her paintings. When asked about the one-color screenprints, Diamond responds, "The viewer can't always tell what medium I've used. They could just as easily be paintings drawn with bamboo brushes and sumi ink." The four limited editions were printed on Rives BFK 100% rag paper measuring 41" high x 28.5" wide.

Martha Diamond was born in New York, New York in 1944. New York City is both her home and the dominant theme of her art. Her idea of urban architecture was seeded from the heights of Stuyvesant Town, where she was raised, and the skyscrapers lining Central Park, where her father had his office. Later, the highways and suspension bridges leading into Manhattan sharpened Diamond's focus. Diamond received a Bachelor of Arts degree at Carleton College, in rural Northfield, Minnesota, noted for its large manmade Indian Mounds. After a year in Paris, she earned a Master of Arts degree at New York University.

Often labeled as a Neo-Expressionist painter, Diamond is best known for cityscapes in big, sweeping, gestural brush strokes. The cityscapes are not static. Great energy moves on the lush surfaces. Her thick, wet-on-wet method of applying oil paint results in a glistening, liquid feeling. Her architectural forms are anthropomorphic, yet uninhabited. A skyscraper she has painted in her idiosyncratic style nearly screams at the viewer, somewhat reminiscent of Edvard Munch. In her highly abstract way, the artist suggests the urban experience with a conspicuous palette that blurs the line between the medium and the image.

Diamond has soloed at Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, ME; Robert Miller Gallery and Brooke Alexander, Inc., New York, NY. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Bradford Art Galleries and Museum, Bradford, England; Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Brooklyn Museum, New York, NY; and Taft Museum, Cincinnati, OH. The Bank of America World Headquarters, San Francisco, CA includes her work in its corporate collection.

In an Artforum article, "The Paint Thickens," Carter Ratcliff observed that Diamond devised "an extremely stylized use for thick paint. The small size of Martha Diamond's patterned configurations, as well as their isolation on relatively large surfaces, make them both toylike and iconlike. Their schematized content is at its best when it is close to being overwhelmed by oblique evocations of light, landscape texture, even temperature and scent. Diamond pushes the associational properties of oil paint to extremes to achieve these effects."

Influenced by Japanese prints, Diamond often translates her work into print media. Her first visit to the Wing Lake Studio of Stewart & Stewart, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan was in May 1996 to collaborate in a screenprint. Diamond is represented by the Robert Miller Gallery, New York.