Studio Visit: Eddie Martinez

Eddie Martinez is hands down one of the best artists working today.  I’m not even going to qualify it by saying he’s one of my favorite artists, he’s a lot of artists’ favorite artist.  For visual people, being in front of Martinez’s work is like sitting down to a dinner where the food is so delicious you forget to say anything to each other.  If you count visual as a sense, it’s sensual.  I was very happy to get to visit his studio and report back to Beautiful/Decay with the goods.  Eddie had a big stack of drawings which had not been photographed before.  As I flipped through that rich pile of drawings my brain melted and the hair on my arms stood up.  So take a moment, picture your spirit animal, relax and enjoy this.  I feel like Morpheus, and you’re Neo, in that scene from the Matrix where Neo has to choose between the red pill and the blue pill.  Once you’ve seen things through Eddie’s eyes you can’t go back.

“It can come out in a doodle.  If I see something I like, I keep using it.  Keep working a visual idea out until it’s exhausted.”

Eddie had a sweet framed Brian Belott drawing.

“You know how Picasso could paint things in 100 different ways? I like that.”

“When you work with the same image over and over again, you teach yourself what you like to see.”

These paintings are all in various stages of progress, some are just getting started and some are finished.

“I spit at these things and cut them with knives.  It’s the truest way for me to express myself.  It’s so physical and seems so emotional.  Not to say it’s a more real way of doing something.  I didn’t look at these paintings and say – that’s what I want to do.”

Advertise here !!!

  • moe

    this is pure shit and he needs to die

  • im diggin all the pics. i almost want more 🙂

    go bill !

  • jim

    get real

  • Josephina

    Wait.. are you serious when you say “Eddie Martinez is hands down one of the best artists working today”? Because this is awful. Really, it’s every image I see here and on his website is atrociously bad and obviously took no skill whatsoever. Learn how to draw, then learn how to put some substance into your art, dude.

  • Amy

    Whoa-ho-ho Bill, those paintings are luscious – also love the drawings – I will be sending this link to all my students. Really like the way you include photos of the studio – feels like I’m there – great to see all the detritus of what seems to be an extremely fluid work process – feels good.

  • Katherine

    Bill (and Eddie), thanks for sharing these drawings. I have to say, I love human-made marks. They are raw, they are powerful, they are fresh. I can see why you were enchanted.

    @ Josefina – I am sure that Eddie Martinez can render with the best of them, but these aren’t about reproducing what is seen exactly. These drawings should be met as things in and of themselves. There is more skill in ‘artlessness’ than in slavish copying, believe it or not. It is tough to unlearn the quest for perfection and return to a space of spontaneous creating where the chatter of conscious evaluation gives way to a flow state, where a child’s hand can come through at times, but with an adult’s sophistication.

  • Scott Anderson

    Very cool. Makes me want to get to work in the studio.

  • Maxie

    I want to *get* this, but sadly I don’t. I can’t see anything I want to engage with.

  • Very cool stuff. Not normally what I’d get into, and kinda hard to swallow the whole “Greatest Living Artist” deal, but very cool indeed…

    People said Picasso produced horrible work and painted like a child, but when he was 12 he made “The Communion” which even some of the most proficient painters I know couldn’t paint. Sometimes it takes a deeper look into gestural work to truly get its beauty and complexity

  • alex

    @katherine, seriously? you think that justifies drawing like a child?? it takes decades to perfect skill, it takes countless hours of experimentation and examination and observation and just loosing that doesn’t make ‘artlessness’.
    drawing like this only regurgitates everything done on the route to that point. i.e. immature and ignorant.
    stop pissing about being a pretentious prick and push forward not backwards.

  • Amir

    Czr Prz well said. I agree with your thoughts.

    Alex being a technically good draftsmen is not that exciting. I don’t care if you someone can render an apple so it looks exactly like an apple. I didn’t love Eddie’s work at first but after being around it for a while and seeing it in person I’ve grown to understand all the subtleties. I prefer the paintings over the drawings as the paintings have a great texture and inventive array of mark making. Sure it’s not for everyone but then what is.

    One other thing to note… We do artist posts all the time and we rarely get this much dialogue/comments. The fact that the work makes you react either in a good or bad way is reason enough to look at it. Not much art makes people react these days.

  • Katherine

    @Alex, if academic, representational art and perfect rendering of the world as the eye sees it is what floats your boat, then yeah, I bet you detest this stuff. Go look at some Beaux Arts nudes or Southwestern landscapes or 17th century Dutch still lifes to recuperate. 😉 They are lovely in their own way (perhaps even consider the EM is tipping his hat to some of the Dutch painters), but these are DRAWINGS, not renderings. Think about them in relation to Lascaux, medieval manuscript illuminations, Aztec codices, Willem de Kooning’s work, Abstract Expressionism, R. Crumb…

  • “Deskilling” is also a kind of skill.

  • Josephina

    I would like to see proof that this is “deskilling” and not just how good at rendering he ever has been. It’s obvious in ab-ex works, picasso, “naive” art, etc. that there is a conscious reasoning behind their style and why they chose to not render to the max (as we’re aware they could do), or if it’s more of a cultural difference in style. This guy’s drawings and paintings show no intellect, no interesting or new marks/ subjects, and basically are at the level of 5th grade art class. I guess I could dare to compare him to Cy Twombly if I’m being generous, but that doesn’t mean I like it.

  • I agree with Amir, the intensity of the comments, both positive and negative are an indicator that something is happening between the work and the audience (you!). Some of the negative comments are rude. However, if you look at the history of art – a majority of the people we like nowadays all received a lot of hostility. You can go back to Manet (constantly rejected and ridiculed – now seen as the father of modern painting), Matisse (fauve means “wild beast”), the artists in Weimar Germany (Otto Dix & George Grosz, exhibited as degenerate artists by the Nazis), Jackson Pollock (Jack the dripper), Jean Michel-Basquiat (loved by many artists, and still ridiculed as a fraud). The haters are making the case for EM in their own perverse way.

  • W

    I agree that his works makes ppl react. I think he has great freedom to explore what is considered beautiful in painting. However, I’m disturbed with the statement that good draftsmen is not exciting. Explain what is exciting.

  • did anyone mention guston as a reference? b/c i see some of the same sensiblity in organization/markmaking/character building going on here. these images as process/direction markers are exciting. i’m especially into the spy vs. spy one. thanks for exposing these drawings to us bill (and for poking the bee hive with the “greatest artist” statement. i hate that the discussion boils down to the same ol’ representation vs. abstraction debate. so, it’s a bit childlike? what then? if this guy’s work is reduced to “looks like shit” then back it up w/ something. is it too close to some other “shit” out there? or not glossy enough? no photoshop or enough references to the shopping mall?

  • Dan Attoe

    I was going to leave a short nice comment, but this discussion is way too complicated for me.

  • Guston, Basquiat, Matisse, etc are all good examples of artists who were ridiculed. This is the same sort of thing. It’s sort of like in the 90s when Elizabeth Peyton and Karen Kilminik were running around and people hated them, but loved them for how “easy” or loose they handled the paint. That then became a style and a genre on itself, but can be traced back to people like Van Gogh, Matisse, whoever, etc.

    I don’t think this guy is the best, in fact, there are some people who use this style that hold a lovability factor/deskilled painting/whatever you guys want to call it that I think are way more interesting.

    And Amir, i totally agree with you on the issue of technique, just because you can make something technically impressive doesn’t mean it’s good. Like they say, any monkey can make a table, it’s what you do with the table that matters most. But if you are an artist you should already know this.

    I’m off to make marks. Happy Tuesday y’all!


  • Dan Attoe

    Check out the Chauvet caves in France – oldest known drawings by humans. There are some similarities.

  • why is pseudo outsider art so popular ?

  • p.s. Those talk bubble pieces are pretty great.

    p.p.s. Nice meeting you the other day Amir!

  • WOW!!! alot of these people checking this Blog are morons!!!! Tight-ass, squarepushers–People that have not even the beginning idea of what True FUNK is! Jean Du Buffet-Cy Twombly-the late drawings of Picasso, the hit and run quality of Basquiet’s mark making, The rich symbolic world of Philip Guston, De Kooing, Donald Baechler and even Tal R swim about in Eddie Martinez’s FANTASTIC ARTWORK!!!! A truely great artist with a rarified touch– that tight-ass renderers will never get!!! WOW!! so suprised that idiot hipster artists OR artists Like Abdi-(from Bravo’s show “work of ARt) will never get this type of touch until they grow hair on this balls and understand how unnecessary there finished renderings are………People on this blog show put down their artmaking materials and allow Eddie to show you how it should be done…….

  • @MOE

  • ah the great baboo …

    my comment was simply an observation. this guy is obviously at the top of his game making art that comes off as “ignorant” of convention.

    haven’t we seen this before? just stirrin’ your pot bro.

    echo park, ca.

  • ask123


    Comparing this to Jean Du Buffet, Cy Twombly, Pablo Picasso, Jean Michel Basquiet, Philip Guston, Willem De Kooing, Donald Baechler or Tal R (you compared Martinez’s work to that of each of these men) is beyond ridiculous. The work of these guys has thematic and visual unity that projects a value that is of a higher order than that projected by Martinez’s work. Just because there are similarities between certain componenets of two artists works, doesn’t mean they are comparable in terms of artistic value. Martinez’s work just strikes me as “less than.” That is to say, far less than the works of the artists you mentioned in your post.

  • ask123

    These pieces are just more amateurish than those of the other modern artists you mentioned. They aren’t as rich or evocative and they feel completely unfinished (and not in a good way, as some might try to spin that comment).

  • Josephina

    yea, so you compare this guy to everything from the Chauvet caves to Twombly and Basquiat, but what they did was new for their time. Matisse was revolutionary, and what he did was never seen before. This work has been seen, and the style is familiar to our contemporary minds- it doesn’t offer anything but jacking off of his ego. I’ve seen work like this a billion times from amateur artists, so how is this new. The only reason I think it’s worth even talking about is the fact someone deemed it worth putting on a website along with other pretty interesting artists. and Baboo, don’t assume we’re the “uncultured” ones when we don’t have to resort to CAPS LOCKKSSSZZ to make an argument. And you were right that I’m probably paying too much rent to live in NYC, but I do have a decent-paying job at the Museum of Modern Art there- but I guess that isn’t enough of a credential to argue about my aesthetic choices, huh?

  • RTC

    everyone should settle down a bit. these are sweet, just deal with it and move on with your life

  • Jespia

    Eddies work is great!

  • dale dreiling

    The attention & comments this piece is getting is reminding me of the Justin Bua post a while back where he pretty much dismissed Robert Rauschenberg. I completely got drawn into that debate…even earned an anti fan in the process.

    What is garnering all the comments, I feel, is not the art. The art looks like a lot of stuff I saw in art school and have since seen in studios, galleries and sketchbooks.

    It’s not bad or good, it is in a certain style that is pretty commonplace. It looks like some work from Twombly & Basquiat a bit, but not too much.

    More so, I think what is getting people fired up is the bold statement of him being one of the greatest. That, like Bua’s commenting pulls people in.

    How can you not react?

  • Denise K

    I love Eddie’s artwork. I also love an open forum. You don’t have to prove yourself to add to a forum about something that has been made public. You don’t have to be a better artist than the artist you are critiquing. You just have to have an opinion. Most of the negative comments above (and I’m sure below) are really out of line. Eddie Martinez has worked for a long time, and hard, and now makes this work. It’s super cool that you guys see all this other stuff in it. I’m sure the influences are there and we can talk about them because they are legitimate. Lots of work on this site is influenced by other stuff. Some work on this site is good, also. Lots of it is pretty repetitive. I’m into how into it you guys are, talking about all this stuff in this really intense way. But when everything is so negative and not really constructive, it takes the entire dialogue down so far. None of the people making the super negative comments above will be part of the dialogue because no one wants to have a conversation like this. Your conversation lives and dies on the internet, the only place where it’s normal for you to be such an asshole. I’m really excited to see more of your great comments, because the internet is a really interesting place. It’s going to be so cool when you bring up Cy Twombly again. That is the only artist you know, I think.
    Again, it’s great that you’ve all got these opinions. I’m sure the next time you make a skateboard of paint some rainbows or teardrops it’s going to be great. I’m really looking forward to that Graphic Tee you’re doing soon. And also, San Francisco is so much cooler than New York, because of all the heart. Just keep drawing those black clouds and pyramids and diamonds, and girl’s faces, and we will all keep having this great discussion about Painting. I can’t wait for the comments after mine. Really, this is a wonderful discussion.

  • aquawon

    This is not happening…oh,boy.

  • Bret

    Thank you, Bill for going out there and introducing many of us to some new artmakers! That large, Last-Supper-ish painting is great! Keep it up!

  • Amir

    Denise you started strong and then just nose dived towards the end.

  • julie

    it’s so funny to me that the most clueless people are the most emphatic. not just here but everywhere. if you can’t see how good the work is then just be quiet about it. you are only pointing out that your eyes are for shit.

  • Denise K

    I know, the internet…bleeehh, am i rite?? worst shit.

  • Amir

    Who knew a blog post would cause so much drama. I personally enjoy Eddie’s work and am looking forward to seeing it evolve. For those with negative comments you should really see them in person.

  • ask123

    Everyone, regardless of where s/he works, is entitled to his/her opinions, be they positive or negative. However, still, I do think the comparisons to Picasso, Twombly, Basquiat, De Kooning, Guston, Matisse etc. are premature and exaggerated. People always make these outsized comparisons – usually about the same time they start bandying about words like “genius,” “greatest” and “brilliant.” State your opinion – absolutely do so. But people will take that opinion much more seriously if you don’t resort to these hyperboles.

  • Duwane

    I saw this on a friends facebook post. I really do like his painting style.

    I really do not know anything about this artist, but I like how it feels that each doodle and drawing is a step and a part leading up to the paintings.

  • @ASK123—i have worked @ Donald Baechler’s studio for 10 years—he has bought SEVERAL—paintings from Eddie—CUZ–he acknowledges him as authentic and a BRo—–While working 4 Donald Baechler I am intrenched in the ARt Brut Style–(4 you fuckers that cant figure what vein this work is in!)
    I know OVER 50 % of these artists on this blog—so step off—-I have- way- more of a working K=nowledge of EM —-THE rest of you guyz are spectators………….
    I will defend the raw-seemingly-untutored hand OVER Lucian Freud or like —ANYDAY!–
    Current artists that challenge this Lameness!!!–Tal R, Katherine Bernhardt, Brendan Cass, Josh Smith, Joe Bradley and Eddie Martinez.. Ya gunna ak that polished?!!–go design a sexy sports car!
    I AM correct!!!you haters are wrong or stuffy–This is not really an opinion——-it is a working KNOLEDGE!!!—–suck my sweet flock!

  • jams

    why are people shitting on childrens art? children do awesome work. Eddie Martinez does too. if you really are into seeing skills though, you should check out america’s got talent. its sick.

  • chris

    thanks bill for the write up, you are arguably one of the best writers of our time.
    there is a sense of generosity in eddie’s work that i like. it’s the kind of work that makes me want to go draw.

  • ask123

    Talk, talk, talk. All you do is talk…and now about yourself, as if anyone cares or is even mildly impressed with what you’re saying. That’s a great “working knowledge” you have. Now all you have to do is find an audience that cares.

    You make me laugh. You really do! Funny thing, the most talented and insightful people I know don’t pump themselves on message boards. You’re really just gassed, son. Deflate yourself, please.

    Also, I never said anything about “tutored hands” or “rendering” or “artlessness.” Go back & look for yourself. Rather, I just suggested that you phrase your opinions in a less exaggerated, over-the-top manner. It would give your words more weight. Hyperbole is a tool fools use to persuade you of whatever garbage they’re peddling. So get off it – not for your sake, for Eddie Martinez’s. You’re making his face red. Now he just thinks you an ass or a sycophant.

    And, honestly, always remember that you have no idea who you’re writing to. What you think is impressing someone may actually be one of the most pathetic displays he’s ever seen.

  • Maxie

    @Baboo. I guess that being ‘correct’ precludes being polite. 🙁

  • Amir

    Baboo lets not hate on Mr.Lucian. There is some serious brutal brush strokes deep in those representational figures.

  • @ASK123—you dont know what yur talking about!!!–it’s scary to think yur putzing around the Moma!!! Hope you don’t really have any position of power there………I dont care how any of you view me—-Greenzo OUT!!
    I am GOD!
    you are POO-POO!
    Obama is a CIA operative…..

  • jimmy

    This discussion makes me think of what it would be like to watch Steven Hawking and Sarah Palin having sex…two people with very different ideas of what a black hole is. It seems akward at best and a bit futile as it grinds on.

    I really appreciate the glimpse into Eddie’s studio and his process. Clearly the guy is prolific, committed to his vision, and ambitious. Not to mention his willingness to allow us to see and comment on what amount to sketches and unfinished works. I find that to be quite generous.

    Thanks Eddie. Thanks Bill.

  • Neo Country

    Eddie’s got a little bit of the devil in his fingers. I really enjoy the ink drawings and the paintings appear to be brutally honest and epic. Thanks Bill!

  • Amir

    Good points Jimmy. As a fellow artist I always appreciate it when other artists are open about their process. I’ve run across many artists who would never allow us to go into their studio. A big thanks to Eddie for giving us a look into his world and to Bill for doing such a great job!

  • bill, if you had posted something which had resulted in no comments, it would be sad. this is proof that people visit for a look-see and a comment or two. while i appreciate the work of EM marginally, i don’t see relevance in who a person knows or where he/she works. (i.e.,”i know a guy who knows a guy who works at nasa who says so-and-so’s work is outta this world.”) i would hate to think that my personal success depended on whether or not i was tapped thrice on the shoulder by moma’s sword and declared an important soul. on the other hand, we shouldn’t expect anything less from a true art-brut-ian/fauve. like taz and gauguin on an island scrapping and mixing it up. chewing tobacco and boxing without gloves on. without a gadfly in the midst, we aren’t given a chance to stop and examine stuff. (was it plato or socrates who said this?)

  • HHAHAHAHAHA. great entertainment here.

    “thats art in your mouth bitch!”

  • That last supper painting looks fantastic

  • Brent

    Another great one Bill! The drawings especially are the perfect way into Eddie’s process.

  • Xin

    These are kinda embarrassing, I mean yeah they look pretty good. No doubt. It’s just that he’s about 50 years too late for these to be interesting. ‘greatest living artist’? no, sorry, a great artist actually is required to create something new. I can give you the names of about 10 artists working in an expressionist style today more exciting than this guy.

    These are just goddamn hipster paintings.

  • Can you define a “hipster painting” for me? This term is way boring and overused.

  • Xin

    I’m not going to define it, because you’re being facetious. And if it’s over-used it’s only because there’s so much of it going around.

  • no, not facetious; i’ve just been on the receiving end of the term and no one could give a definition. it’s just a quick dismissal. i, personally, would define “hipster” as “deers with antlers” or “urban outfitters-looking.” i guess what i’m looking for is, are you meaning that he’s looking to make a quick buck? and if so, couldn’t he do better with work more suited for interior designers? just looking for clarity.

  • Xin

    This is more like a slow-but-bigger-buck thing, but I think it’s still hipster.

    Hipster I tend to think of as anything with all pulp and no substance, so, yeah, the deer paintings. But it can also be: faux-childish rendering for no reason except that it looks cool, paintings about fashion that make no comment on the fashion, or paintings obviously ripped off badly from one or more major artists of the last century but with all the vitality and meaning removed. (mostly this last one seems to happen with Klimt)

    It’s a pretty broad-spectrum put-down I reckon :p I’m feeling a bit mean for having said it, but it was mostly the ‘greatest living artist’ thing I was objecting to.

  • part of my nudging was to just get this out there within these posts. i don’t have any objections to “mean” critique. i’d like the artist/author to have a chance to get something from the forum. to know what people are seeing/thinking (as feedback). otherwise, comments can be dismissed too easily. (i’m no moderator by any means.)

  • kiki

    Eddie is a very good painter.
    I’ve been following him for a while.

    Dekooning, Basquiat, late Dubuffet, late Picasso, Guston, even a little Clemente…its all very visible as im pretty sure these are some of his influences. this is a great thing and his mark making is truly his own.

    painting is like dancing professionally…you can learn how these technical moves and routines. you can learn everything in the history of dance….but if you can’t dance on beat, you have no soul.

    i believe painting is the same way, you can know more then anyone, but if you don’t have it, you don’t have it. if you know how to move to the rhythm, if it’s honest and highly witty and passionate…that’s what holds strongest.

    Eddie is very good. Some of you sadly don’t have an eye for serious mark making and figurative abstraction in painting. for the ones of you that do, i hold my glass high up and cheers to you.

  • Xin

    Oh great. I don’t appreciate art’s true glory within my soul, or something.

    Dear Kiki, I like every one of the painters you just ridiculously compared this guy to. The problem is not with me and my inadequate aesthetic perception, it’s with the work.

    People like you think art is meant to serve the same function as an expensive drug: as long as it ‘makes you feel!’ it’s good and if not it’s bad. NO. It’s meant to be, it CAN BE, so much better than that. You just don’t have the imagination to ask for it.

    Making someone feel something is easy if you’re really an artist. Making someone think is so much harder.

  • kiki

    [email protected]

    The more you dismiss EM…the more you give his work credit. I never personally attacked you. If u don’t like it. Then don’t look at it. Move along

  • Xin

    lol @ kiki,

    Every time some doofus like you thinks they know everything about art I get emailed now because of this stupid thread. I can’t help arguing.

  • brandon

    Yep. Me too. Exact same problem. Like a game. Final word (infinity).

  • I have a EM and I never tire looking at it.Every day it gives out another mood. I am lucky I got in early as I cant afford one today but I really believe he is destined to go to the very top

  • kc

    people arguing painting looking at jpegs…. pssssssh

  • Wanna give me those names chief??

  • g

    ok taylor mckimens has spoken