Saturday, April 07, 2012

Martin Schreiber

Untitled, Martin Schreiber - Acrylic on Canvas and Wood45 x 45 x 18” - 1969 // Photo: Rebecah Beauchamp
My art review repost from a show in December 2011
MADI Museum has a retrospective of Martin Schreiber, but you will get much more than just Schreiber’swork, you will get to know a neglected part of Modernist history that deserves to have its day in thesun. Dallas artist Ricardo Paniagua says, "Martin Schreiber, to me represents one of the most prominent facets on the brilliant cut diamond that symbolically represents hard-edged painters." Directly orindirectly, Schreiber’s hard-edge paintings are a great influence to so many artists working in the style today.

Martin Schreiber was born in Berlin in 1924. He was a student of the very thick and pressionistic
landscape painter Reuben Tam at the Brooklyn Museum Art School. Schreiber's hard –edge paintings were not a product of Tam’s influence, but rather from his experience as a diamond cutter and his career as a commercial artist. I don’t see Schreiber's work as less expressive than his teacher in color and movement of line, but his hard-edge whimsical approach is more in line with the MADI movement.

I think Schreiber’s work has a real machine produced feel that comes out of the Bauhaus School in Germany and was carried through graphic design. Just in how the shapes and lines are distributed in Schreiber’s compositions, I also see some Russian Constructivist influence in the work. Some of his works remind me of movie theater architectural designs of the mid 20th century. Like the theaters, the images use a centralized theme that is inviting, gives a sense of grandeur while enticing you to take a closer look.

Schreiber is very adept at painting electrifying colors that seem to vibrate or shoot out like a bolt of energy. The geometric forms move across the canvas with incredible speed and crispness. The colors he uses are not serious, but light and cheerful. Schreiber’s wall constructions look as if they are made by a high quality outdoor sign shop that specializes in high modern design. Even with my limited experience in a sign shop, it is hard not to see the high quality craftsmanship and activated design work Schreiber achieves in his sculpture ‘Constructions.’

The MADI Museum will have Martin Schreiber’s retrospective up until January 8th, so you have a little more time to see these geometric gems. If you have any appreciation for hard-edge paintings, you really need to see how Schreiber makes extremely subtle changes of light in his painted bands of color.
For more pictures of the show go see

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