Martha Visser't Hooft

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Martha Hamlin Visser’t Hooft (American, 1906-1994) artist and teacher in the modernist tradition and known for her abstract expressionist work, geometric-totemic abstractions, and surrealism. Her career spanned more than 60 years and she garnered critical acclaim with many awards and distinctions during the course of her long art career. She exhibited extensively in Buffalo, New York City and throughout the United States.

Martha for the most part was a self taught artist. In 1922 she traveled to Europe to study the works of the emerging modernist painters at the Académie Julian, in Paris, as well as the music and avant-garde theater of the day. She moved to New York City three years later to further her studies at the Parson’s School of Applied Art, where she practiced set design for the theater there. She taught at the University of Buffalo from 1956-58, in Buffalo, NY.

“Martha Visser’t Hooft’s art is made in the eye’s mind, dazzling with feats of mental gymnastics, cast broadly through a rhetoric informed by literature as well as by the systems of science, by archaeology as well as by anthropology, by nature as well as nurture. Always fantastic, even when it is as simple as the rocks that mass at the foundation of her work, even with the tectonics that structure the tripod forms used to move her rocks about, her paintings and drawings delight a viewer with the skilled conversation of drawn line, as with the intellectual challenge of her imagination.”-Anthony Bannon, 1992 director of the Burchfield Art Center, Buffalo, NY.


1906- Born, Buffalo, NY.

1922- Studied at the Académie Julian, in Paris, France.

1925- Studied at the Parson’s School of Applied Art, NYC.

1928- Moved back to Buffalo and married Franciscus Visser’t Hooft, a Dutch businessman who was later named honorary consul of the Netherlands, and raised three children.

c1931- Became a member of the Buffalo Society of Artists, Buffalo, NY.

1933- Was one of the founding members of the Patteran Society, Buffalo, NY.

1951- Named “Woman of the Year” by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Society, Buffalo, NY. Commissioned by her friend William Steinberg, conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic, to design the set, decor, costumes and curtain for Igor Stravinsky’s “L’Histoire du Soldat” (translates to "A Soldier's Tale" or "The Soldier's Tale"), Buffalo, NY.

1951-55- Exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC.

1952- Exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA.

1956-58- Taught at the University of Buffalo from 1956-58, Buffalo, NY.

1973- Exhibited in a major retrospective exhibit, Burchfield Art Center, Buffalo, NY.

1975- Named outstanding Woman in the Arts, University of Buffalo Alumni Association, Buffalo, NY.

1992- Exhibited at the David Anderson Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

1994- Died in her home, March 9th, at the age of 87, Buffalo, NY.

Exhibited also at: Carnegie Institute (International), Pittsburg, PA; Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC.

Memberships: The Buffalo Society of Artists (c1931), Buffalo, NY; Patteran Society (Founding member, 1933), Buffalo, NY; Honorary Member Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

Honors & Prizes: Named “Woman of the Year” by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Society (1951), Buffalo, NY; Named outstanding Woman in the Arts, University of Buffalo Alumni Association (1975), Buffalo, NY.

Permanent Works: The Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; the Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY; The Buffalo News, Buffalo, NY; Graphic Controls Corp., Buffalo, NY; the Whitney Museum, NYC; Ball State Teacher's College, Muncie, IN; Anderson Gallery, Buffalo, NY; SUNY at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY; Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Rollins College, Winter Park, FL; Manufacturers and Traders Trust Company, Buffalo, NY; Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH; Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, SC; Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY; Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, Utica, NY; and Quaker Oats, Chicago, IL.

Her life and work are chronicled in the book Visser’t Hooft, by Albert L. Michaels and Robert J. Bertholf, 1991.

Magazine references: "Homecomings," Buffalo Spree magazine, July/August 2007, by Dean Brownrout.

For additional information on this artist or for other possible examples of her works, please visit the AskArt link

(Rewritten & compiled chronologically by Mark Strong of Meibohm Fine Arts, Inc., East Aurora, NY,, sources: Furnished upon request.)