David Stone Martin

In the world of jazz there’s one artist collected the world over who’s never played a note of music but has left an indelible mark on jazz culture as well as modern art & design. David Stone Martin (1913-1992) was one of the most prolific and influential artists of the postwar era. With his signature hand sketched graphics in two or three primary colors he perfectly captured the energy and spontaneity of the jazz idiom and post war America.

David was born in Chicago and studied at the Art Institute there. During the 1930’s and 1940’s he worked for various government agencies such as The Federal Artists Project and The Office of Strategic Services where he met artist Ben Shahn, who greatly influenced his future artistic style. Martin’s work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago and the Smithsonian Institution. He’s won numerous awards from the Society of Illustrators and the Art Directors Clubs of New York City, Boston and Detroit. DSM was the subject of a Jazz at Lincoln Center retrospective in 2010, Jazz at First Sight: The Art of David Stone Martin.

His diverse pieces included illustrations for books and numerous posters, billboards and advertisements for film, television and the theater, including the Lincoln Center Repertory Theater productions of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Martin’s portraits for Time Magazine covers included Robert F. Kennedy, Eugene McCarthy, Mao Zedong and George C. Wallace.

Starting in the mid 1940’s, DSM began working with Norman Granz, the great jazz empersario, designing album covers for his various record labels. Martin did nearly all the covers for the Asch, Clef. Norgran and Jazz at the Philharmonic labels of the 1940’s and 1950’s. These were mostly done in the distinctive heavy black-ink lines he’s renowned for. And of course the subjects were equally amazing: Stan Getz, Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Coleman Hawkins, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Jelly Roll Morto, Duke Ellington and many other jazz giants.