Martin Elkort (American, b. April 18, 1929 d. November 19, 2016) 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 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 critic and staff photographer for New Mexico Magazine for several years. His family moved to Los Angeles in the early 1960s and they spent some time in Alaska and then back to New York working in the travel industry. After retiring in 1996, Martin wrote several books, worked as a food critic and re-ignited his interest in photography. He also wrote 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 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 view a documentary about Martin Elkort’s work, please visit http://martinelkort.com/the-movie/.