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 Martha Hamlin Visser't Hooft  (1906 - 1994)



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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: geometric-totemic abstract painting, teaching

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Martha Visser Hooft is primarily known as Martha Hamlin Visser't Hooft

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Ad Code: 3
Martha Visser't Hooft
from Auction House Records.
Figures in a desert
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following, submitted October 2003, is from Robert J. Bertholf, author and biographer of the artist:

Martha Visser't Hooft was born in Buffalo in 1906, and developed her passion for art in Paris and New York City in the 1920s and 1930s.  Her early work, particularly that of the 1940s, was indebted to the formulations of Surrealism.

During the 1950s she established a career as a painter in New York City as well as in Buffalo.  Her paintings of this period reflected the sense of Abstract Expressionism without being limited to its forms.  She was an energetic and innovative painter in the artistic world of Western New York State.  Her paintings were influenced not only by what she had seen and experienced in Europe but also by the geography of the American Southwest.

Her work was exhibited at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington, and many other venues.  There have been retrospectives of her work at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center here in Buffalo; it has also been exhibited at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and other area venues.

Permanent Collections:
Ball State Teacher's College, Muncie, Indiana; Anderson Gallery, SUNY at Buffalo, (Buffalo, NY); Buffalo News, Buffalo, NY; Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Rollins College, Winter Park, FL; Manufacturers and Traders Trust Company, Buffalo, NY; Quaker Oats, Chicago, IL.

Magazine reference:
Brownrout, Dean. "Homecomings," Buffalo Spree, July/August 2007

Sources include:
additional information: Dean Brownrout

Biography from Meibohm Fine Arts, Inc.:
Martha Hamlin Visser’t Hooft, artist and teacher in the modernist tradition, was  known for her abstract expressionist work, geometric-totemic abstractions, and surrealism.  Her career spanned more than 60 years, and she garnered critical acclaim with many awards and distinctions during the course of her long art career.  She exhibited extensively in Buffalo, New York City and throughout the United States.

Martha for the most part was a self taught artist.  In 1922 she traveled to Europe to study the works of the emerging modernist painters at the Académie Julian, in Paris, as well as the music and avant-garde theater of the day.  She moved to New York City three years later to further her studies at the Parson’s School of Applied Art, where she practiced set design for the theater there.  She taught at the University of Buffalo from 1956-58, in Buffalo, NY.

“Martha Visser’t Hooft’s art is made in the eye’s mind, dazzling with feats of mental gymnastics, cast broadly through a rhetoric informed by literature as well as by the systems of science, by archaeology as well as by anthropology, by nature as well as nurture. Always fantastic, even when it is as simple as the rocks that mass at the foundation of her work, even with the tectonics that structure the tripod forms used to move her rocks about, her paintings and drawings delight a viewer with the skilled conversation of drawn line, as with the intellectual challenge of her imagination.”-Anthony Bannon, 1992 director of the Burchfield Art Center, Buffalo, NY.


1906- Born, Buffalo, NY.

1922- Studied at the Académie Julian, in Paris, France.

1925- Studied at the Parson’s School of Applied Art, NYC.

1928- Moved back to Buffalo and married Franciscus Visser’t Hooft, a Dutch businessman who was later named honorary consul of the Netherlands, and raised three children.

c1931- Became a member of the Buffalo Society of Artists, Buffalo, NY.

1933- Was one of the founding members of the Patteran Society, Buffalo, NY.

c1930’s- Commissioned by her friend William Steinberg, conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic, to design the set, decor, costumes and curtain for Igor Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Doldat, Buffalo, NY.

1951- Named “Woman of the Year” by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Society, Buffalo, NY.

1951-55- Exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC.

1952- Exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA.

1956-58- Taught at the University of Buffalo from 1956-58, Buffalo, NY.

1973- Exhibited in a major retrospective exhibit, Burchfield Art Center, Buffalo, NY.

1975- Named outstanding Woman in the Arts, University of Buffalo Alumni Association, Buffalo, NY.

1992- Exhibited at the David Anderson Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

1994- Died in her home, March 9th, at the age of 87, Buffalo, NY.

Exhibited also at: Carnegie Institute (International), Pittsburg, PA; Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC.

Member of: The Buffalo Society of Artists (c1931), Buffalo, NY; Patteran Society (Founding member, 1933), Buffalo, NY; Honorary Member Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

Honors & Prizes: Named “Woman of the Year” by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Society (1951), Buffalo, NY; Named outstanding Woman in the Arts, University of Buffalo Alumni Association (1975), Buffalo, NY.

Permanent Works in: The Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; the Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY; The Buffalo News, Buffalo, NY; Graphic Controls Corp., Buffalo, NY; the Whitney Museum, NYC; Ball State Teacher's College, Muncie, IN; Anderson Gallery, Buffalo, NY; SUNY at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY; Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Rollins College, Winter Park, FL; Manufacturers and Traders Trust Company, Buffalo, NY; Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH; Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, SC; Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY; Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, Utica, NY; and Quaker Oats, Chicago, IL.

Her life and work are chronicled in the book Visser’t Hooft, by Albert L. Michaels and Robert J. Bertholf, 1991.

Magazine reference: "Homecomings," Buffalo Spree magazine, July/August 2007, by Dean Brownrout.

(Rewritten & compiled chronologically by Mark Strong of Meibohm Fine Arts, Inc., East Aurora, NY, 06/2008, Sources: The Wayward Muse: A Historical Survey of Painting in Buffalo, by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Susan Krane, Curator, 1987; The Buffalo Newsobituary, March 1994; Who was Who in American Art, 1999; with permission from, prior submission, Robert J. Bertholf, author and biographer of the artist, October 2003)

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