top of page

Fletcher Martin (American 1904 – 1979)

Updated: Apr 21, 2022

Nude with Drape, c. 1937, oil on board, 24 x 17 (oval), signed lower right, provenance: Frances Lee Kent Falcone Family Trust


About the Painting

Fletcher Martin’s Nude with Drape is a very modern take on one of the oldest subjects in western art, the female nude. In this work, we see the structural influence of Cezanne, the artist who meant the most to Martin, the impact of Surrealism, and the classical ordering of De Chirico. When discussing American Surrealism in his essay American Art Today for the catalog of the art exhibition at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, Holger Cahill noted, “The surrealists cultivate the fantastic, the mysterious and even the macabre, and their work has been colored to a considerable extent by the ideas of the psychoanalysts. While they stress spontaneous and untrammeled personal expression to the point of irrationality, they have shown a great deal of aptitude for technical discipline. They have a way of painting the most bizarre subject matter in the driest and most deliberate academic technique. Straight surrealism, as practiced by the European adept, has not proved attractive to many American artists . . . . however, a good many of the works exhibited indicated that surrealist ideas and technique have been assimilated into the stream of contemporary American expression.” The assimilation and technical virtuosity described by Cahill is what we find in Nude with Drape.

About the Artist

Fletcher Martin was a well-respected artist, illustrator and teacher who worked in a variety of media. Born in Colorado, Martin was largely self-taught. He initially served in the Navy before moving to Los Angeles where he was represented by the Hatfield Gallery and had his first solo museum show at the San Diego Fine Arts Gallery in 1934. Martin and his work are associated with some of the most prominent artists of the 20th century.He was an assistant to Siquieros and followed both Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton in their teaching assignments at the University of Iowa and the Kansas City Art Institute, respectively. Martin spent decades teaching at other institutions, including the Art Students League in New York and Mills and Claremont Colleges, both in California. Martin exhibited extensively during the 1930s and 1940s at every major institution in the US, including the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. His paintings received numerous awards and strong critical response.He completed several WPA and Federal Art Project Commissions, including a fresco for Hollywood High School and a mural for the Federal Building in San Pedro, California. Martin’s works are in the collections of over two dozen museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Whitney and LACMA.He is extensively listed in Who was Who in American Art and all other standard references.


bottom of page