Accession Number


James Brooks

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
oil on canvas

68 1/2 in. x 50 3/8 in. ( 173.99 cm x 127.95 cm )

Credit Line
Gift of the Lannan Foundation in Honor of the Pelham Family

Label copy
James Brooks’s place among the first generation of Abstract Expressionists has sometimes been overlooked because he was absent from the New York art scene for three years of military service during a critical period in the development of the movement. Most of his paintings from the late 1940s and 50s are composed of dense surfaces. Neither his forms nor his titles give any indication of specific subject matter, but his organic shapes, suggestive of movement, growth, and decay, evoke the natural world. Brooks persistently pursued the Abstract Expressionist ideal to seek, as he put it, "the freedom of doing something more on impulse...being irresponsible, in a sense . . . using the medium in a new way, an accidental way, if possible."
This sense of "accidental" or "impulse" painting was an important characteristic of the work of the first-generation Abstract Expressionists. The spontaneous aspects of Martoc can be seen in the direct and visceral application of paint and in the dynamic and somewhat frenetic brushstrokes. The resulting composition is one of raw energy and the pure, uncontrolled hand of the artist.
Jamina Ramírez, Intern for Modern and Contemporary Art, on the occasion of the exhibition The New York School: Abstract Expressionism and Beyond, July 20, 2002 – January 19, 2002

Subject matter
Martoc is an abstract painting with dense layers of oil paint. In the early 1950s James Brooks began to experiment with adding things to his oil paints and combining oil and enamel paint to create various finishes and viscosities. Brooks was an American artist who was an active member of the 8th Street Club and the New York School.

Physical Description
Exhibition catalogue filed in object file: 1965/1.169. "James Brooks: Variations on a Theme," Chicago, Valerie Carberry Gallery, 1/10/06 - 3/25/06.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

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Abstract (fine arts style)
American (North American)
enamel paint
modern and contemporary art
oil paint (paint)

& Author Notes

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