New York Artists at Work: Ben Martin Studio Portraits”

“Mark Rothko”, Ben Martin, 25.5″ x 25.5″
Kathryn Leigh Scott

July 30 – August 6, 2022

Opening: Saturday, July 30, 2022, 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m

“I have come across packets of negatives of composers, authors, actors, politicians, athletes and figures who were famous in their day and are now all but forgotten. Taking on the job of organizing Ben’s archive is the last thing I can do for him and his own legacy.” – Kathryn Leigh Scott

Artplex gallery is glad, “New York Artists at Work: Ben Martin Studio Portraits‘ in collaboration with Kathryn Leigh Scott, Martin’s former wife, close friend and business partner.

Most notable for his photojournalism for TIME and the resulting documentation of key 20th-century moments, “New York Artists at Work: Ben Martin Studio Portraits’ shows intimate portraits of now famous visual artists, photographed in their studios by the internationally renowned photojournalist Ben Martin. This collection of iconic photographs offers a rare glimpse into the lives of artists who lived and worked in New York City in the early 1960s. Martin captures the complexity of each artist’s personality, art and environment in photoshoots he did for TIME in the early years of his decade-long photojournalistic career.

Ben Martin, TIME’s New York bureau’s first photographer, has spent 33 years documenting wars, fashion, politics, art, business and sports for TIME, Life, Fortune, People and Sports Illustrated.

He walked backwards in front of Martin Luther King for most of the Selma to Montgomery Civil Rights March, leading Chief US Marshall John Doar to remark, “Martin was the best shield Dr. King could have because he was always ahead of him [the black leader] to photograph his every move.”

Although he did take the “infamous” sweaty upper lip and five o’clock shadow photo of Richard Nixon during the Kennedy-Nixon TV debates in 1960 (a photo Nixon claimed cost him the election and led to Martin being accused of him outlawed), many years later Nixon would say, “We’ll let the past be,” and commission him to photograph his official post-presidency portrait.

He was the lead photographer on TIME’s now-famous cover story, “Swinging London,” which Hugh Hefner, Founder and Editor of PLAYBOY, called “pivotal” in defining the sensual, sexy “swinging sixties.”

He photographed large cover essays on the 25th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy and the 40th anniversary of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima, the Japanese “Zero” pilot who led the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Mozambique Civil War, both by Led both rebel and Portuguese sides, East African safaris and an Arctic expedition to the North Pole. His three days of uninterrupted coverage of President John F. Kennedy’s funeral earned a cover of LIFE magazine, and his coverage of the first traveling pope, Pope Paul’s trip to the Holy Land, was a cover story in TIME.

Born Benjamin Rush Martin III on September 16, 1930, in Salisbury, North Carolina, Mr. Martin became fascinated with photography at the age of eight when his father, a newspaperman, gave him a miniature bakelite “Unix 00” box camera gave. At fifteen he founded the nation’s first high school news bureau and became a staff photographer for the local newspaper, The Salisbury Post. At seventeen he became the youngest member of the National Press Photographers Association.

He attended Ohio University, where he majored in journalism and photography, worked his way through college cookouts as a short-term hamburger chef at White Castle, and as a stringer photographer for UPI Newspictures. His photo essay on a traveling preacher, published in Columbus DISPATCH Sunday Magazine, brought him to the attention of Wilson Hicks, LIFE’s senior photo editor. When he was offered a position as a “photographic intern/photo assistant” on the LIFE team after graduating, he came to New York only to find that the magazine canceled the new position a week before he arrived. Not wanting to return to his hometown unemployed, he took a job as a copyboy at TIME and came to work every day with his Leica on his shoulder. Since TIME did not have a photo staff at the time, Ben was asked to shoot last minute assignments. After several months juggling his copyboy job with ever-growing photographic work, Henry Luce hired him as TIME’s first staff photographer in the New York office.

Mr. Martin is the author of Marcel Marceau: master of pantomime and co-author of Another World: The Great Hotels of the World. He has photographed for all of Time’s columns, including Life, Fortune, People, Sports Illustrated, Money, Entertainment Weekly, Architectural Forum, House and Home, Time-Life Books and HBO.

Mr. Martin was married to actress Kathryn Leigh Scott (1971-1990) with whom he co-founded the book publishing company Pomegranate Press. The two remained close friends and business partners until his death on February 10, 2017 at the age of 86 from pulmonary fibrosis.

“New York Artists at Work: Studio Portraits of Ben Martin” opens on Saturday 30 July 2022 with a reception from 4pm-7pm. The exhibition can be seen until Saturday, August 6, 2022 during the gallery’s regular opening hours.

Since the opening of the Artplex Gallery in 2018, the gallery has continued to be one of the world’s leading art galleries, specializing in high quality, original contemporary art and representing a wide range of important international artists. Located directly in West Hollywood and in close proximity to its sister gallery, Artspace Warehouse, Artplex Gallery is an expansive modern space specializing in international urban, pop, graffiti, figurative and abstract art worthy of visual impact.

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