Marty Kalb


Introduction to this website 


The artwork selected for this website offers viewers the opportunity to view a wide range of my artistic interests and social concerns. The artworks are divided into various catagories; Abstract and realistic landscapes and seascapes. paintings using the nude figure in an abstract  geometric environment and images based on Holocaust documentary sources.  The sources for the non Holocaust oriented works were from locations in Ohio the Caribbean Florida, Michigan.Vermont , New York and other places now fogotten. The purly abstract works may evoke the feeling of a particular geographic place but in fact they represent the sensations of remembered colors or light of various locations.


I rarely make art on site.

I take photographs and later return to the studio and make computer assised changes to the photographic sources. These working studies are reinterpreted on canvas or paper. The process of selection and revision then begins.

Working from photographs can offers  the challenge of getting exacting details or the abiity to adjust or correct my memory of fleeting effects that may become abstract sweeps of color. If I am working on a purly abstract piece with no photographic source I start the painting process by selecting and mixing a range of colors. I then begin applying paint to  canvas or pastel to paper in ways that respond to some unexplainable inner need for balance, structure

and freedom. I frequently work with a design concept that results in free flowing forms played against vertical or horizontal divisions of space with overlying linear elements. Working abstractly is a lot different from developing or interpreting an image that already exists. In some ways it is harder since you don't know where you are going until your inner voice says to stop.  I find working both relisiticly and abstractly very satisfying.


Elements of Art

A straight line when vertical is a figure

A straight line when horizontal is a landscape

A line when on a diagonal recedes into space

A line when it returns to itself makes a shape

Color creates space

Color creates emotion

Value creates space

Value creates emotion

Texture creates space

Texture creates emotion

Art is emotion made tangible 


Artists important to me

Rembrandt , Cezanne and Matisse,because their work got better with age

Klee, because he makes me realize that simple ideas are the

most complex and the most rewarding Kandinsky, because his work

was the first to teach me about the levels of meaning in abstraction

Twachtman, because his landscapes are about how to feel about

place and process

Church, because his majestic

vision is his own creation

Monet, because I see his hand and eye take risks 

Hofmann because he controls the mind and frees the spirit

Heartfield and Goya because they do not look away

There are others, but as Hillel said "the rest is commentary"


Subjects I return to

Color filled landscape abstractions

Realistic images of local streams

 waterfalls and sea shores

Asian influences

The Holocaust 


The Holocaust Series

The paintings, drawings and mixed media works I created for the Holocaust Series are a response to

documentarimages in the public domain or photographs I have made of sites in Europe.  The work is realistic, descriptive interpretive and expressive. It is my intent to use the appearance of a documentary photograph or a news photo for its direct factual associations but shift the viewer's attention to specific areas of interest within the work to heighten its emotional intensity. The message is important. The first impression must be clear, direct and unambiguous. But there also needs to be an emotional connection that goes beyond the horror of the facts presented.  To achieve that result I combine realism with abstract elements such as textured surfaces, aggressive gestural marking and symbolic references to fire, smoke, wind, and atmospheric turbulence. To further enhance the accessibility of these shocking representations I make use of compositions based on traditional liturgical designs. On occasion I have also constructed actual objects that make direct reference to the images in the paintings.


There should be no doubt as to what is portrayed and where the artist stands in relation to the moral implications of the situation presented.


I have titled the entire body of work The Holocaust Series.  I consider it in its entirety homage to the millions of Jewish victims and others wantonly murdered by the Nazis during WWII. I believe this calamity was the defining moment of evil in our time. As a Jew I am threatened by the knowledge that anti-Semitism could have so completely dominated a society thus making possible the genocide of European Jewry by the Third Reich. I am outraged by the perpetuation of anti-Semitism even as knowledge of the atrocities of the Holocaust become more widely known and accepted as fact. I am angered by the passive indifference displayed by individuals, societies and governments in the face of intolerance and bigotry.


Art can not successfully compete with political power. It can however act as a moral compass and it does create an expressive, emotional record of a culture's social and political attitudes.  The Holocaust occurred more than sixty five years ago. Since then we have had  "Police Actions", colonial wars, and numerous civil wars.  Today we remain confronted with the political realities of ethnic cleansing, intimidation, mass killings and terrorism in our daily lives. If we are ever to have a more humane society people must finally and fully accept the truth that prejudice and militarism result in gore not glory. Each of us can, in some way, make a contribution toward decreasing prejudice in  our communitities and in some cases the world at large.As an artist and teacher I use my work to play a small part in that quest.