A plein-air landscape painter in styles of both realism and abstraction, Suzanne Schweig Langsdorf was known as Martyl, a name given to her by her artist-mother, Aimee Goldstone Schweig, for her daughter to use as an artist signature. She lived in Missouri and Illinois, although she traveled widely. From 1945 to 1972, she was art editor of the “Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists”, and from 1965 to 1970, she was an instructor at the University of Chicago.
Martyl was born and raised in St. Louis, and her natural talents combined with the tutelage of her mother, led to early recognition as a child artist. At age eleven, she won a first prize for drawing at a competition of the St. Louis Art Museum, and the next year she won second prize. Throughout her career, she had numerous exhibition venues including the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, the Royal British Artists Gallery in London, and the Gibbes Museum in Charleston, South Carolina.
Her mother became her frequent painting and traveling companion, and they went to “many parts of the globe in search of subject matter.” (205) One of their early trips together was in 1930, when Martyl was twelve, to Provincetown, Massachusetts. Other trips included New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona where the Grand Canyon was one of the destinations.
Early in her career, Martyl was a WPA (Works Progress Administration) muralist, and two of her murals are in post offices, one titled “Wheat Workers” in Russell, Kansas, and the other, “La Guignolee”, in Sainte Genevieve. Another mural, “The Courageous Act of Cyrus Tiffany, completed in 1943, is in Washington DC at the Building of the Recorder of Deeds.
Martyl graduated from Mary Institute in St. Louis and enrolled in Washington University where she studied art and history. In Missouri, she also attended Sainte Genevieve Summer School, which her mother had founded and served as director. In 1940 and 1941, Martyl went to Colorado Springs where she studied at the Fine Arts Center with Boardman Robinson and Arnold Blanch.
In 1941, she married Alexander Langsdorf, Jr., who was a nuclear physicist, and the couple had two daughters. They lived in the St. Louis area until 1943 and then moved to Illinois, living in Chicago, Roselle, and from the 1970s in Schaumburg.
Source: Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki Kovinick, “An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West”