|Died||May 27, 1997 (aged 84)|
|Known for||Ceramic Art and Professor, School of Fine Arts, Indiana University, Bloomington|
|Spouse(s)||Margaret Rebekah "Becky" Brown|
"While I was in high school [1925-29], the whole family took a motor trip through the West. The car got into the sand in New Mexico and ripped out its differential, and we were stuck waiting for its replacement. So we put up our tent and stayed a couple of weeks. I entertained myself in part by making little pots and firing them in a pit -- I'd read the Indians did this. I still have one of them."
Martz graduated from Indiana University in 1933 with a bachelor's degree in Chemistry.
Martz's first exposure to a professional ceramic art studio was in 1931 when he attended a summer course at Ohio State University. For the summer of 1932, Griffith Pottery in Nashville, Brown County, Indiana (a tourist destination and artist's colony) hired Martz to improve their glaze formulas. In 1933, Martz graduated from Indiana University, Bloomington, with a bachelor's degree in chemistry. He worked again at Griffith Pottery in the summer of 1933. In 1933-34, Martz returned to Ohio State University to do graduate work in ceramic art with Arthur E. Baggs, Carlton Atherton, and Edgar Littlefield. He worked as an apprentice at Brown County Pottery for a year. In 1935, he began a series of rustic studios in the woods near Nashville, Indiana.
Around 1936, Martz was discovered by his subsequent patron, Scott Murphy, an art collector who had a summer home in Nashville, Indiana. Murphy funded Martz to move his studio from its remote location in the woods to downtown Nashville, where many more tourists would encounter his work. Murphy also funded a new showroom.
During the period from 1935-1942, Martz was enormously productive, making colorful earthenware. In 1936 and 1937, his work was exhibited in the National Ceramic Exhibition in Syracuse, New York, and included in the exhibit circuit. This was the first of widespread recognition he achieved during the remainder of his life. Nationally syndicated journalist, Ernie Pyle, described Martz in 1940 as follows:
Karl Martz is reticent, low-spoken, gratefully polite. He does not speak in arty terms. ... The parlor of his home is the exhibition room. In it today stand the most beautiful pieces of pottery I have ever seen. Each piece is an individual thing, almost with a soul. He never makes a duplicate of anything. ... The ingenuity and artistry that he fashions into his clay are actually touching.
By 1942, tourist traffic in Brown County, Indiana, had largely ceased due to World War II gas rationing. For the remainder of the war, Martz did research in ceramics at Carnegie-Illinois Steel Company and Armour Research Foundation in Chicago, Illinois. In 1944, he taught ceramic art part-time at the Chicago Institute of Design directed by László Moholy-Nagy, and at Hull House.
In the spring of 1945, Martz was hired by Henry Radford Hope. Hope chaired the Fine Arts Department (later the School of Fine Arts) at Indiana University from 1941 to 1968. Martz began as an instructor of ceramic art. Ceramic equipment was difficult to obtain after the war, so the university bought all the equipment and supplies from Martz's earlier private studio.
Martz achieved national and international recognition over the next four decades, both as an educator and as a ceramic artist. In the 1950s, he began doing sculptural work in stoneware and later, Asian-inspired porcelain, as well as continuing functional and sculptural earthenware. In 1952, Martz participated in the seminal summer workshop at Black Mountain College, North Carolina, working with Bernard Leach, Shoji Hamada, Marguerite Wildenhain, Peter Voulkos, and Warren MacKenzie.
In 1957, Martz and Harvey Littleton spent ten days at the historic Jugtown Pottery near Seagrove, North Carolina, where they learned traditional salt-glazed stoneware techniques. In the 1960s and 70s, he did two sabbatical semesters in Japan, which influenced his work. In 1965, he was elected President of the Design Section of the Ceramics Education Council of the American Ceramic Society (ACS).
In 1966, he was a leader in the separation of that group from the ACS and the founding of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA).
Craftsmanship in Clay is a series of six 16 mm films featuring and scripted by Martz and produced by the (then) Indiana University Audio-Visual Center. The films were produced between 1948 - 1954.
- Simple slab methods (1948, 11 min)
- Glaze application (1949, 11 min)
- Stacking and firing (1950, 11 min)
- Throwing (1950, 11 min)
- Decoration (1952, 11 min)
- Simple molds (1954, 11 min)
In 1975, he did a 25 min film titled, possibilities in clay, and also featured Thomas Marsh, Ginny Marsh, Kathy Salchow, and John Goodheart.
|1989||Distinguished Hoosier||Robert D. Orr, Indiana Governor|||
In 1965, Martz was elected as the president of the Ceramics Education Council of the American Ceramic Society (ACS). As the president, he was a leader in the separation of that group from the ACS and the founding of the National Council on Education in the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) in 1966.
In 1977, there was a major retrospective exhibit at the Indiana University Art Museum on the occasion of Martz's retirement. In 1992, he was inducted as a fellow of the American Craft Council.
In 2009, Kathy M. McKimmie wrote Clay Times Three about Martz.
Examples of his work are (or were) in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, the Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, the Museum of Decorative Arts in Lisbon, the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the IBM Corporation, the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse New York, the Minnesota Museum of Art in St. Paul, the Hall Collection at the University of Nebraska, and several museums in Indiana including the Midwest Museum of American Art, the Indiana University Art Museum and the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
In 1935, he married Margaret Rebekah “Becky” Brown. Initially, they lived in a small cabin on a hill just South of Nashville, Indiana, where Martz built his first kiln:
"I built a kiln out in the woods. Didn't know a thing about building kilns, of course. I got a big 20 gallon stoneware crock, knocked the bottom out to get a draft, and put a pan underneath to drip oil into so the flame would come up through. Can you believe this? It smoked terribly -- great clouds -- and the neighbors thought we were running a moonshine still. But I could get copper reds on the bottom and chrome reds on top, all in the same firing. Pretty soon I talked my dad into financing a real kiln."
Soon they rented a cabin in the woods, North of Nashville, Indiana. They had two sons, Eric in 1940, and Brian in 1942. Becky learned ceramics from her husband, initially making small items to sell to tourists. Later, Becky developed her own style, making charming and whimsical animal sculptures, and earning a regional reputation.
Martz designed a home and studio on the outskirts of Nashville, Indiana, the ‘’Martz Studio’’, and built it largely with his own hands, starting in 1949. In 1954, the family took up academic-year residence in Bloomington, Indiana, to enable their two boys to attend the University School, which was academically much superior to the school in Nashville IN. Eric became a professor of biological science, and Brian, a musician and professor of music. Martz and his wife continued to spend weekends and summers at the Nashville Martz Studio, making and selling pottery there, until 1961, when they sold it and moved to a modest home at 105 N. Overhill Dr. in Bloomington, Indiana, where their lives had become centered. They converted the attached garage into a ceramics studio, where Martz and his wife continued to make pottery and ceramic sculpture until precluded by failing health.
Martz had an unassuming and modest demeanor, preferring to be called a potter. He battled lifelong depression. In the late 1930s and early 1940's, he enjoyed acting in plays (some written or directed by Joseph Hayes) at the Brown County Theater. He played the piano, mostly boogie woogie, sometimes entertaining his children and nieces with musically-accompanied stories.
In his final years, Martz battled metastatic prostate cancer, became nearly blind due to macular degeneration, and also suffered significant hearing loss. Shortly before his 85th birthday, unable to recover from gall bladder surgery, he died from natural causes on 27 May 1997.
Notes and References
- Bowie, Theodore Archived 2018-10-06 at the Wayback Machine, Karl Martz, pages 3-5 in Karl Martz, potter, Retrospective, Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, Indiana. 1977.
- McKimmie, Kathy M. (2009). Clay Times Three. The tale of three Nashville, Indiana Potteries. ISBN 978-0-615-31993-3. Privately published. 100 pages including index. Pages 47-83 cover Karl Martz and Becky Brown. 20 color photographs of works by Karl Martz, several portrait photos, and similar coverage of Becky Brown. 2010 eBook available from Indiana University Press Archived 2018-10-06 at the Wayback Machine.
- Breaking New Ground. The Studio Potter + Black Mountain College. Exhibition Catalog, 2007. Commemorates the 1952 and 1953 summer pottery symposia attended by Bernard Leach, Shoji Hamada, Marguerite Wildenhain, Peter Voulkos, Warren MacKenzie and Karl Martz, among others. Black Mountain Museum and Arts Center, Asheville, North Carolina, USA.
- "Conversations with Indiana Potters: Karl Martz". The Studio Potter. 19 (2): 46–47. June 1991. Archived from the original on 2018-10-06.
- Pyle, Ernie (1980). Images of Brown County. The Museum Shop, 202 N. Alabama St., Indianapolis Indiana 46204. Page 33 reproduces Pyle's description of Karl Martz, dated August 24, 1940. This is reproduced from Pyle's nationally syndicated newspaper column.
- McKimmie, Kathy (Winter 2010). "Hooked on Glazes: Karl Martz remembered, Becky Brown Martz rediscovered". Journal of the American Art Pottery Association. 26 (1): 10–14. Archived from the original on 2018-10-06. Retrieved 2018-09-25. Includes seven photos of pots by Karl (five in color), three color photos of works by Becky, and two black and white portraits.
- Karl Martz papers, 1949-1992. Includes biographical sketch. Indiana University Archives Archived 2015-07-28 at the Wayback Machine, Bloomington, Indiana. Accessed September 25, 2018.
- Coleman, Thomas F. Obituary: Karl Martz. Published (but not online) in the Bloomington Herald Times May 29, 1997; and in the Indiana Daily Student (Indiana University) June 2, 1997. Available online at MartzPots.Org. Thomas F. Coleman was Professor in the School of Fine Arts, Indiana University.
- Martz, Eric. "Scott & Ellen Murphy and their impact on Karl Martz's early career". MartzPots.Org. Retrieved September 28, 2018.
- Martz, Eric. "1938-42: The Pink House". MartzPots.Org. Retrieved September 28, 2018.
- Pyle, Ernie, Traveling (a nationally syndicated column): Page 17, August 29, 1940. This clipping believed to be from The Cincinnati Enquirer.
- "Henry R. Hope papers, 1932-1967". Archives Online at Indiana University. Archived from the original on February 26, 2017. Retrieved September 28, 2018.
- See reference 1, which this citation should go to (technical problem).
- Martz, Karl (n.d.). "Jugtown Pottery and Karl Martz's Visit in 1957". Karl Martz & Becky Brown, Potters. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
- Brisson, Harriet E. NCECA, The First 25 Years, 1966-1991. Scholes Library, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. Online at NCECA.net Archived 2015-09-05 at the Wayback Machine.
- "American Craft Council College of Fellows". craftcouncil.org. American Craft Council. Archived from the original on August 23, 2017. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
- "Square Vase, 1984. Seto Hiroshi (Japanese, 1941-1994)". www.clevelandart.org. The Cleveland Museum of Art. Archived from the original on October 9, 2018. Retrieved October 1, 2018.
- Yellin, Robert (2000). "Sakuma, Totaro (Mashiko, Mingei)". The Japan Times. Archived from the original on July 27, 2018. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
- "Totaro Sakuma (Japanese, 1900-1976)". artnet.com. Archived from the original on October 9, 2018. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
- "Simple Slab Methods - Media Collections Online". media.dlib.indiana.edu. Retrieved 2019-05-11.
- "Glaze Application - Media Collections Online". media.dlib.indiana.edu. Retrieved 2019-05-11.
- "Stacking and Firing - Media Collections Online". media.dlib.indiana.edu. Retrieved 2019-05-11.
- "Throwing - Media Collections Online". media.dlib.indiana.edu. Retrieved 2019-05-11.
- "Craftsmanship in clay. Decoration - Media Collections Online". media.dlib.indiana.edu. Retrieved 2019-05-11.
- "Simple Molds - Media Collections Online". media.dlib.indiana.edu. Retrieved 2019-05-11.
- "Possibilities in Clay - Media Collections Online". media.dlib.indiana.edu. Retrieved 2019-05-11.
- "Karl Martz Retrospective" (PDF). Ceramics Monthly. 25 (5): 27–34. May 1977. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 9, 2018. Retrieved October 1, 2018.
- Gallaway, Sally (October 1968). "Karl Martz". Ceramics Monthly. 16 (8): 12–17.
- The Museum of Contemporary Crafts (now the Museum of Arts and Design) de-accessioned this work in 2007 or 2009 according to a 2018 inquiry and replies by curatorial staff Angelik Vizcarrondo and Samantha de Tillio.
- "Plate by Karl Martz, 1941, object 63.33". collections.everson.org. Everson Museum of Art. Archived from the original on October 9, 2018. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
- The Midwest Museum of American Art (Elkhart, Indiana) has more than a dozen pieces by Martz, donated by Doug and Barbara Grant. In 2008, these were on display along with works by many other mid-twentieth century studio potters, in a room devoted largely to works of the Overbeck Sisters.
- "Search for Karl Martz at the Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University". artmuseum.indiana.edu. Eskenazi Museum of Art. Archived from the original on October 9, 2018. Retrieved September 25, 2018. This museum has (or had) about twenty pieces by Martz.
- Photos of the Martz Studio, extensively modified by 2018, can be seen here: "1766 Old State Road 46 Nashville, IN 47448". estately.com. August 31, 2018. Archived from the original on October 15, 2018. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
- "Obituary: Karl Martz". people.umass.edu. Archived from the original on 2015-01-07. Retrieved 2019-05-11.
- Nelson, Glenn C. (1960). Ceramics. Holt, Rinehart & Winston. Page 14.
- Gallaway, Sally (October 1968). "Karl Martz". Ceramics Monthly. 16 (8): 12–17. Includes a portrait photo and five photographs of his ceramic works.
- Nelson, Glenn C. (1971). Ceramics, A Potter's Handbook (3rd ed.). Holt, Rinehart & Winston. Page 194.
- Karl Martz, potter, Retrospective. Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, Indiana. 1977. Publication Number 1977/1. 64 pages including a 2-page biography by Theodore Bowie, a listing of 222 ceramic pieces that were in the retrospective show, 30 black and white photos, and listings of One-Artist Shows, International Exhibitions, Juried Exhibitions, Other Exhibitions, Awards, Shows Juried by Karl Martz, Permanent Collections, Publications/Articles, Films, and Photographs of Work Published.
- "Karl Martz Retrospective" (PDF). Ceramics Monthly. 25 (5): 27–34. May 1977. Retrieved October 1, 2018.
- "Conversations with Indiana Potters: Karl Martz". The Studio Potter. 19 (2): 46–47. June 1991.
- McKimmie, Kathy M. (2009). Clay Times Three. The tale of three Nashville, Indiana Potteries. ISBN 978-0-615-31993-3. Privately published. 100 pages including index. Pages 47–83 cover Karl Martz and Becky Brown. 20 color photographs of works by Karl Martz, several portrait photos, and similar coverage of Becky Brown. eBook (2010) available from Indiana University Press.
- McKimmie, Kathy (Winter 2010). "Hooked on Glazes: Karl Martz remembered, Becky Brown Martz rediscovered". Journal of the American Art Pottery Association. 26 (1): 10–14. ISSN 1098-8920.
- MartzPots.Org offers a detailed history of Karl Martz, including photographs of over 200 of his pots and many portraits of him. Also covers his wife Becky Brown, with many photographs of her pots and ceramic sculptures.
- Marks of Karl Martz at The Marks Project: Dictionary of American Ceramics, 1946–Present.
- Obituary of Karl Martz.
- Obituary of Becky Brown (wife of Karl Martz, and also a ceramic artist).