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Martin Rosenthal

(American, 1899-1974)


Martin Rosenthal is an artist best known as an abstract and surrealist painter. Many of his later works have been described as visionary.

Martin Rosenthal was born in Woburn, MA. He would become influenced by the movements of the early 1900s -- an era of experimentation within post-impressionism, and the dawn of expressionism and various styles of abstraction. 

After completing military service in 1925, Rosenthal went on to study at the Art Students League with classmates John Sloan, Robert Henri and Boardman Robinson. He became an associate to George Luks at Luks’ School of Painting. Rosenthal also taught at Luks' summer home.

The Modern Art Exhibition of 1934 was proclaimed by the press: "One of the most comprehensive exhibitions of modern art ever staged outside of a museum." Rosenthal's work was singled out from among exhibited pieces by Chagall, Modigliani, Zorach, and Pissarro, and that “Featured are Jewish artists whose contributions to modern painting and sculpture are significant.”

In the 1930s, Rosenthal was a part of multiple group exhibitions at venues mostly in New York, including the American Art Association and Contemporary Arts Gallery. He spent the greater part of his life in and around New York City, but traveled to Madagascar, Spain, and Japan.

Sometime in the late 1960’s, the “Future People” series appeared. Rosenthal painted in the dark basement of a small home he shared with his mother in Queens, NY. In time, the works began to grow larger in size and brighter in color. Eventually, he constructed some canvases almost too large to be removed from the basement. Rosenthal never really wanted to market or sell his “Future People.” Instead, he surrounded himself with them like friends. These works were never seen until after Martin’s death in 1974.

Even though professionally trained as a painter and well educated, Rosenthal’s raw and naïve style of painting has garnished appeal within the realm of Outsider Art, especially his later 1960s abstract paintings and surrealist “Future People” series.


Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.



ACA Gallery, New York, NY

American Art Association, New York, NY

Anderson Galleries, New York, NY "Exhibition of Works George Luks Class"

Contemporary Arts Gallery, New York, NY

Montross Gallery, New York, NY 

Newark Museum of Art, Newark, NJ (solo exhibition)

Springfield Museum of Art, Springfield, OH

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