Martin Bloch was born into a non-observant Jewish family in Neisse, Germany (now Nysa, Poland) 16 November 1883. He initially trained as an architect and later studied drawing in Berlin. He held his first solo exhibition at art dealer Paul Cassirer’s Gallery in Berlin in 1911, then travelled to Paris and to Spain, before returning to Berlin. Following the rise of the Nazi Regime and the condemnation of his art as 'degenerate', Bloch left Germany in 1934, moving first to Denmark and then to England, where he settled in London, opening a second painting school with Australian painter Roy de Maistre in 1936. HHis work was also included in the important 'Exhibition of Twentieth-Century German Art' at the New Burlington Galleries in 1938, intended as a riposte to the notorious 'Entartete Kunst' ('Degenerate Art') exhibition organised by the Nazis in Munich in 1937. He held his first solo London show at the Lefevre Gallery in 1939.
Between 1940 and 1941 Bloch was one of many so-called ‘enemy aliens’ interned, first at Huyton Camp, Liverpool, then briefly on the Isle of Man. In 1948 he became a guest teacher in Minneapolis, then resumed his influential teaching career in England, where his fluid style of painting and spontaneous use of colour inspired his students at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts (1949-54). He was a regular exhibitor with Ben Uri Gallery and held a joint exhibition with Josef Herman at Portman Street in 1949. In 1951 he also contributed to the Arts Council exhibition '60 Paintings for 51'. In 1952 he had a solo travelling show in Canada.
Martin Bloch died in London, England on 19 June 1954. A retrospective was held at the Beaux Arts Gallery, London in 1955, the Arts Council organised a touring memorial exhibition in 1957 and a further memorial show was held at Ben Uri in 1963. In 2007, Martin Bloch: A Painter's Painter, was held at the Sainsbury Centre, Norwich. Bloch's work is represented in numerous UK collections including the British Museum, the Government Art Collection and the Tate.