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Keith Morrow Martin Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: ASE
Date: 8 Jul 1993

Biographical History

Keith Morrow Martin (1911-1983) was an American abstract/surrealist artist and educator. Born in Lincoln, Nebraska, he attended the Art Institute of Chicago and then travelled extensively, spending the early 1930s in Vienna, Paris and Berlin and the early 1940s in Iceland and England. He lived in New York for several years (1937-1941) but for the majority of his career -- 35 years -- resided in Baltimore, Maryland.

Martin's media of choice included collage, pen-and-ink, and mixed media, and his work has been exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago as well as the Corcoran Gallery, National Academy of Design, Pennsylvania Academy, and Whitney Museum of American Art.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Spanning 1928 to 1987, the Keith Morrow Martin Papers comprises biographical material, family and general correspondence, artwork, writings, and memorabilia of the Nebraska-born artist. Illuminating Martin's experimental artistic style and dominated by a large number of exhibition catalogs, the collection documents both the career and personal life of the painter, collage artist, and educator (1911-1983).

Family correspondence (Boxes 1-2) consists primarily of holograph letters to and from Martin's parents, sister, brother, and cousin, between 1937 and 1978. The General correspondence (Boxes 2-3), incorporating incoming and outgoing letters in chronological sequence, spans the years 1933 to 1978. Many incoming letters are also addressed to David McIntyre, Baltimore Museum of Art assistant director and Martin's companion of 35 years, who authored several outgoing letters on behalf of Martin. Correspondents include regionally and nationally known artists (Yvonne D. Backus, Ruth M. Bernstein, James L. Brown, Robert Bryant, Carolyn Stout Carlson, Gladys Goldstein, Henry Gorski, Tomi Kleff, John Koch, Ralph T. Millet, Wasyl Palijczuk, Virginia Petrick, William Louis Pitts, Liz Whitney Quisgard, Shelby Shackelford, Lillian Shapiro, Bertha Fanning Taylor, Sally Turner, Andy Unger, Ruth Nagle Watkins, Betty Wells, May Wilson, Florence Zavadil); a dancer (Erick Hawkins); musicians (Claire Deene, Gian Carlo Menotti); literary figures (Robert Henkes, Lawrence V. Lynch, Mary Owings Miller, Eleanor Patterson Spencer, Alice B. Toklas); curators and art historians (Adelyn Dohme Breeskin, James W. Foster, Tom L. Freudenheim, Carol V. Harford, Lincoln F. Johnson, Katharine Kuh, Julien Levy, Bates Lowry, David McIntyre, Jane E. Ostryniec, Charles Parkhurst, Brenda Richardson, Gertrude Rosenthal); political figures (William B. Macomber, Joseph D. Tydings); and patrons (Elizabeth Cashen, Robert Wainwright Erickson, Ordella Geisler, David Flierl Guillaume, David Hill, Ross Idol, Stan Mazaroff, Martin Palmer, Louis B. Peters, Otis Taylor, Scout Thirkield, Elizabeth and Edwin Tunis).

Organizations represented include cultural institutions (Academy of the Arts, Art in Embassies Program, Art Institute of Chicago, Artists Association of Nantucket, Ball State Gallery, Baltimore Arts Festival, Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, Baltimore Museum of Art, B. T. Batsford Ltd., Butler Institute of American Art, Chautauqua Art Association, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Denver Art Museum, Ford Foundation, Gallery 100, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Jewish Community Center of Baltimore, Juster Gallery, National Collection of Fine Arts, National Gallery of Art, Nationalgalerie, Norfolk Museum, Oklahoma Printmakers Society, Peale Museum, Phoenix-Chase Galleries, Raydon Galleries, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Sarasota Art Association, Society of the Four Arts, Tidewater Artists, Tour Gallery, Whitney Museum of American Art); educational institutions (College of Notre Dame of Maryland, Essex Community College, Goucher College, Morgan State College, Western Maryland College); and businesses (Art Consultants of Baltimore, Art Rental Gallery, Container Corporation of America, Miller & Paine, National Brewing Co., Julius Wile Sons and Co.). A selected index to the Correspondence follows the box list.

Artwork (Box 3) encompasses ballet costume designs, original greeting cards for the years 1943 to 1955, photographs, and reproductions. Costume designs for ballet are depicted in programs and periodicals dated 1936 and 1937. Photographs (1931-1969) of murals, paintings, and exhibitions are organized by dates provided by Martin. Arranged chronologically, Reproductions (1935-1973) include greeting cards, safety posters, magazine covers, and an art instruction book.

Statements on painting, a personal reminiscence about Gertrude Stein, overviews of an adult painting class taught by Martin, two published poems, and miscellaneous notes constitu te Writings (Box 3). Memorabilia (Boxes 3-7) includes financial material, itineraries (1967-1977), photographs, printed material, and typescript reviews and additional writings by others (1945-1959). Financial material consists of museum receipts and acceptances (1946-1977) and Martin's partial inventory of his artwork with annotated prices (1945-1977). Photographs of Martin (1928-1978) as well as those with family and friends (1928-1969) are organized by dates provided by him. Printed material contains articles and reviews about Martin (1946-1978), newspaper clippings (1928-1987), exhibition announcements, invitations, and catalogs for group and one-man shows (1931-1987), and one exhibition poster (1945). Literary works by Yves Battistini, Audrey McGaffin, and Julia Randall Sawyer are among the Writings by others.

Arrangement of the Collection

Family correspondence is arranged alphabetically by name. General correspondence is arranged chronologically; a selected index to correspondence is provided at the end of this finding aid. Writings are arranged chronologically also, while Artwork and Memorabilia are arranged alphabetically by type.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Breeskin, Adelyn Dohme, 1896-1986.
Freudenheim, Tom L.
Gorski, Henry.
Johnson, Lincoln F.
Martin, Keith, 1911-1983.
Millet, Ralph T., 1953.
Palijczuk, Wasyl, 1934-
Parkhurst, Charles.
Richardson, Brenda.
Spencer, Eleanor P. (Eleanor Patterson)
Stein, Gertrude, 1874-1946.
Taylor, Bertha Fanning.
Toklas, Alice B.


Art, American -- 20th century.
Art, American.
Collage, American.
Painters -- United States.
Painting, American -- 20th century.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Exhibition catalogs.
Financial records.
Reviews (documents)
Sound recordings.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Keith Morrow Martin Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Keith Morrow Martin.

Costume sketches, gift of Connie Conley, 2021

Table of Contents

Biographical material

Family correspondence

General correspondence




Selected index to correspondence


Selected index to correspondence