David Stone Martin, a widely acclaimed illustrator who created more than 400 covers for record albums, as well as magazine covers, billboards, posters and advertisements for films, has died at the age of 78.
Martin died Friday in New London, Conn.
"We couldn't know," Los Angeles Times art critic William Wilson once mused in print, "what a delicate balance of talent, opportunity and social vectors it takes to create a phenomenon like Martin."
A jazz enthusiast, Martin drew album covers in the 1940s and 1950s for such artists as Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Art Tatum, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie.
"He drew with a splattered barbed-wire line that connected black shapes," Wilson said of Martin's work. "In some ways, they were as abstract as Miro. Their patterning made white look pure and limpid and black sooty and thick. They mostly represented musicians playing, but they were as witty and inventive as the music itself."
Martin's trademark style became known in art circles as "the DSM line."
Among his magazine covers were portraits for Time magazine of Robert F. Kennedy, Eugene McCarthy, Mao Tse-tung and George Wallace.
Martin, who studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, held several public positions and commissions from the federal government. He was supervisor for mural projects in the Federal Arts Program and art director of the Tennessee Valley Authority. He painted commissioned murals in federal buildings in Mobile and Huntsville, Ala., and in Sweetwater and Dayton, Tenn.
During World War II, he served as graphic arts director for the Office of Strategic Services, and as art director for the Office of War Information.
Among the institutions displaying his work are New York's Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Smithsonian Institution.
Martin is survived by his wife, Cheri Landry Martin, two sons and a daughter.