For more than fifty years, Martha Diamond (b. 1944, New York) has created paintings and works on paper that capture the essence of the metropolis. Beginning in the late 1960s, Diamond immersed herself in the downtown Manhattan art and poetry communities of the New York School, finding direct inspiration from her lived experiences and from such earlier painters as Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, and Jackson Pollock. While the city has become her signature motif, her work exhibits a keen sense of exploration, placing her on a trajectory that has taken her far beyond the Manhattan skyline and into the realm of abstraction. Her deft command of her materials produces rich greens and blues, vibrant reds and yellows, rendered in bravura brushstrokes that demonstrate an intuitive understanding of color and light as well as structure and shape. The textures and colors that characterize Diamond’s work—more commonly associated with sweeping landscape vistas—encourage contemplation, meditation, and a deep engagement between viewer and canvas. While Diamond admits to connecting through her art with the outside world, she also responds directly to the materials she works with. “If I express anything, it's how the brush works,” she has said. “Not my emotion.”
Martha Diamond has had solo exhibitions at the New York Studio School (2004); Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Maine (1988); and Portland Museum of Art, Maine (1988), among many others. She has also participated in important group exhibitions, including Beautiful, Vivid, Self-contained (curated by David Salle), Hill Art Foundation, New York (2023); Visionary Painting (2017) (curated by Alex Katz), Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine; Changing Soil: Contemporary Landscape Painting, Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Nagoya, Japan (2010); Invitational Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture, American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York (2001, 1991, and 1990); Inventing the American Landscape: A Dialogue with the Visual World, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh (1998); Whitney Biennial 1989 (curated by Richard Armstrong, John G. Hanhardt, Richard Marshall, and Lisa Phillips), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1989); American Painting Since the Death of Painting (curated by Donald Kuspit and presented in association with the USSR Union of Artists), Kuznetsky Most Exhibition Hall, Moscow (1989); and MetaManhattan, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1984). Her work is in the permanent collections of many institutions, including the Art Institute of Chicago; Brooklyn Museum, New York; Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine; Guggenheim Museum, New York; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Minneapolis Institute of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. The recipient of an Academy Award for Art from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2001), Diamond has taught at the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Madison, Maine. For thirty-six years (1982–2018), Diamond served on the Skowhegan School’s Board of Governors.