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Photo by Broadmead resident Erroll Hay

Keith Martin, Abstract Painter

By Jackie Mintz

The current South Hall art exhibit features a significant painting that has been owned by Broadmead for decades, but has been virtually unnoticeable on campus in recent years—first stored in Holly House during the Master Plan construction, and then hung in the back of the Auditorium.

The abstract surrealist work, titled “The High Place,” is by Keith Martin, an internationally known abstract painter and early Broadmead resident. A large (54” x 50”) oil on canvas, it appears to be disjointed and dreamlike, with collage-like elements on a predominantly sky blue background. It was donated to Broadmead in 1981 by Martin’s friends and fellow Broadmead residents.

Keith Martin moved to Broadmead in 1979 and lived in R Cluster. According to Broadmead’s longtime plumber, Marshall Roane, one day Martin showed him a “concept drawing” of what would eventually become “The High Place”—a pencil sketch on a small index card. He then showed Marshall the next version, drawn on an 8.5” x 11” sheet of paper. When Marshall indicated he had to get back to work, Martin said, “Do you know how much people pay me for what I just told you?”

Keith Morrow Martin was born in Lincoln, Neb., in 1911. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and then spent years painting in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. Then, after living in New York City, he moved to Baltimore, where he spent the rest of his career at the Maryland Institute College of Art (then Maryland Institute), from which he received an honorary degree in 1981. Martin died in 1983.

Martin’s work, influenced by Matisse, Picasso and Paul Klee, resonates with light and color. In his later period, he produced works in collage, pen-and-ink, and mixed media.

Martin had solo exhibits in Paris and Berlin as well as New York, Washington and Baltimore. His work is included in the collections of the National Gallery of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Museum of American Art in Washington, and the Neue Nationalgalerie of Berlin, as well as at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Much of his work, however, was bequeathed to the Peale Museum, in downtown Baltimore.

Note: Martin also donated two other works to Broadmead.

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