MARTIN LEWIS (1881-1962) A celebrated printmaker and painter, Martin Lewis applied his consummate skills as a draftsman to scenes of New York City and rural Connecticut, imbuing his work with a palpable sense of life, atmosphere and mood. Eschewing the trend for Abstraction, he remained a devoted Realist who relied on his own acute observation to record the "homely details of common everyday life." His penetrating cityscapes were especially renowned, one commentator dubbing him "the master-psychologist of the megalopolis." Born in Castlemaine, Australia on 7 June 1881, Lewis was the son of a gold-mining engineer. He began drawing at an early age, and by his teens he had acquired an ability to record his immediate impressions of a specific place with skill and accuracy. At the age of fifteen he ran away from home, travelling and sketching in the Australian outback and in New Zealand and later working as a sailor. From 1898 to 1900, he resided near Sydney, where he studied at the James Ashton Art School and did illustration work for local newspapers. In 1900, he travelled to San Francisco, where he produced decorations for William McKinley's political campaign before settling in New York City. During his early years in Manhattan, Lewis was employed as a commercial illustrator. Responding to the energy and dynamism of the urban environment, he went on to create spirited paintings and drawings of New York, which he interpreted in a positive and optimistic way. His work from this period is broadly brushed and highly atmospheric, demonstrating his awareness of the aesthetic strategies of Impressionism, Tonalism and Pictorial Photography. In 1910, Lewis visited England and Wales, where he had the opportunity to see the graphic work of artists such as James McNeil Whistler, Seymour Haden and others. So inspired, he took up printmaking in 1915. In fact, his first print was so successful that his good friend, the painter Edward Hopper, asked Lewis to teach him etching techniques. From 1920 to 1922, Lewis lived and worked in Japan, where he produced oils and watercolors of the countryside and became interested in conveying aspects of time and weather. Through his study of Japanese prints, he also developed a concern for pattern and asymmetrical designs, qualities that he would emphasize in his views of New York City. By 1925, Lewis had evolved a distinctive painting style inspired in part by the example of Hopper, as well as by the work of Ashcan School painters such as George Bellows and John Sloan. However, despite the fact that his oils were well-received by critics, Lewis decided to concentrate primarily on printmaking after the late 1920s, investigating aspects of light and shadow within the realm of black and white while continuing to focus his attention on the streets, architecture and people of New York City. He went on to exhibit his graphic work in many group shows, including those of the Print Club of Cleveland, the Society of American Etchers and the Chicago Society of Etchers. He also had an important retrospective exhibition of oils, watercolors and prints at Kennedy Galleries in New York in 1929. Indeed, by 1930, Lewis was acknowledged as a leading figure in the tradition of American graphic art, a writer for a Boston newspaper describing him as "a New York artist, whose power of presentation, imagination, happy choice of subjects and sheer technical achievements have brought him rapidly to the forefront of American art . . . an artist, whose work is destined to become a record and memorial of his age. For many years, Lewis lived in Greenwich Village, but in 1930, possibly due to the economic woes of the Depression, he moved to Sandy Hook, Connecticut (not far from Danbury). There, he produced images of his immediate environment, depicting farms, trees and country lanes covered with snow. At the same time, he continued to maintain ties with New York City, establishing a short-lived school for printmaking in 1934, in collaboration with Armin Landeck and George Miller. Preferring the streets, structures and the hustle and bustle of the city to the pastoral ambiance of Connecticut, Lewis returned to New York City in 1936. He continued to create prints and drawings, in addition to teaching at the Art Students League from 1944 to 1951. Lewis died on 22 February 1962. Examples of his work can be found in major public collections throughout the United States, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.