American, b. April 18, 1929 – d. November 19, 2016
Martin Elkort was born in New York and grew up amidst the Great Depression. He took his first professional photograph at the age of 10 while on a car trip with his family in Baltimore. The Baltimore Sun purchased his photographs of submerged cars during a flood and at that point, he was hooked on photography. At the age of 15 Martin came down with polio and spent 4 months in the hospital. When he returned home, his parents bought him his first Ciroflex, a twin-lens reflex camera, that cost them about a week’s salary at the time. After his recovery, he set out around Manhattan taking pictures of whatever interested him.
While studying painting at Cooper Union in New York City, Martin joined the New York Photo League, an organization of photographers that served as the center of the documentary movement in American photography. There he studied under masters and learned to become adept at what he refers to as ‘stealth photography.’ With his camera strapped around his neck, he would walk peering down into the 2×2 inch ground glass of the camera. He developed the skill of walking right up to a person and taking their photo without them even realizing it. During this period he worked at the Wildenstein & Company Gallery where he further enhanced his photographic knowledge and technique.
After marrying in 1953, he realized he would have to support his family by means other than photography. He moved to New Mexico where he was an art editor and staff photographer for New Mexico Magazine. His family moved to Los Angeles in the early 1960s,they spent some time in Alaska and then moved back to New York, where Martin worked in the travel industry. After retiring in 1996, Martin wrote several books and magazine articles, worked as a food critic, and re-ignited his interest in photography. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife where he continues to enjoy his street photography. He also writes articles about photography for Rangefinder and Black & White Magazine.
Martin Elkort’s work is widely exhibited and can be found in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, The Getty Museum, The Columbus Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, The Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, The Jewish Museum in Brooklyn as well as many corporate and private collections.
To learn more about the artist, we encourage you to find a screening of the new documentary about him; Martin Elkort – An American Mirror. Also please check out Martin’s Wikipedia page.
You can review the archive of photos by selecting from the following categories
- Coney Island
- Downtown LA
- Early 2000s
- Lower East Side
- New York and Beyond
- ORT 1951
- Summer Camp 1946
- Tijuana 2002
2nd Street and 2nd Ave Snowstorm -1948
The iconic city of New York bundled up in a blanket of snow, a reminder of a simpler time. This vintage photograph shot by Martin in 1948, takes us on a journey through the bustling streets, now quiet and still.
Politics and Landscape
March 01, 2011 — “Only in America!” Three little words that were repeated by thousands of “greenhorns” (immigrants) at the beginning of the last century who were awed by the
Cooling Off During a Heat Wave
We hope everyone had a great 4th of July break. Now back to our regularly scheduled summertime programming! With temperatures at record highs around the world, here’s a throwback photograph