Air Raid

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Air Raid

United States, 1940
Paintings
Oil on canvas
26 1/16 x 34 1/16 in. (66.2 x 86.52 cm); Framed: 32 5/8 x 40 7/8 in. (82.87 x 103.82 cm)
Gift of Southern California Artists in memory of Antony Anderson (40.9)
Not currently on public view

Curator Notes

The international conflicts of the era were reflected in some of the paintings produced in Los Angeles around 1940....
The international conflicts of the era were reflected in some of the paintings produced in Los Angeles around 1940. Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, 1936 (The Prado, Madrid), was exhibited briefly in Los Angeles during 1939, when Hans Burkhardt (born 1904) was at work on a painting protesting the events of the Spanish Civil War. Martin later reacted strongly to his experiences in the Second World War and won acclaim for his powerful illustrations. Nevertheless, Air Raid need not be seen as referring to a specific battle or campaign of the 1930s. Since so many of his paintings of that decade present images of violent movement or struggle, Air Raid should be considered an expression of the artist’s broader outlook, tinged by an awareness of the global situation. As a "painter of memory," Martin would have had many experiences in the navy and as a boxer that would have evoked feelings of fright and unseen menace such as expressed in Air Raid. Although he was identified with regionalist or American-scene painters, Martin differs from most regionalists in the degree to which he selected and presented his figures from everyday life so that they became emblematic of basic situations and emotions. Air Raid and Martin’s The Fugitive, 1930s (formerly Midtown Galleries, New York), call to mind Flight and Pursuit, 1872 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), by William Rimmer (1816-1879) in the way that each presents symbolically a state of mind or feeling of anxiety, although the expressionist distortions of Martin’s paintings are unlike the academic precision of Rimmer’s. The common subject matter of Martin’s paintings also differs from the exotic setting of Rimmer’s but it is not sufficient to make Martin’s a realistic style. Although his subjects are derived from his experiences, Martin abstracted from them a broader significance, describing them in an ideal rather than specific manner. In some cases figures are developed to represent a social type, in others to represent an emotional state. Exit in Color, 1939 (Abbott Laboratories Art Collection, Chicago), and Home from the Sea, 1939 (University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City), like Air Raid, rely on soft forms, empty space, and the impact of strong contrasts and vigorous diagonals to generate a feeling of dreamlike symbolism akin to magic realism. Air Raid was donated to the museum by sixty Southern California artists in memory of Antony Anderson (1863-1939). Trained as an artist in New York and Chicago, Anderson moved in 1903 to Los Angeles, where he turned to writing. He edited a quarterly review published by the Stendahl Art Galleries and wrote several monographs on Southern California artists that remain important sources on them. He was best known as the art critic for the Los Angeles Times, a position he held for over twenty years, ending in 1926. In 1938 a group of local artists donated works of theirs for a sale to raise money for Anderson, who was then ailing. After his death they decided to purchase for the museum a work by one of their number as a tribute to him.
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Bibliography

  • Fort, Ilene Susan and Michael Quick.  American Art:  a Catalogue of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Collection.  Los Angeles:  Museum Associates, 1991.
  • LACMA: Obras Maestras 1750-1950: Pintura Estadounidense Del Museo De Arte Del Condado De Los Angeles. Mexico, D.F.: Museo Nacional de Arte, 2006.