Martin was trained in Natural Sciences and Art History at Cambridge University and the Courtauld Institute, London. Books include, The Science of Art. Optical Themes in Western Art from Brunelleschi to Seurat (Yale), and The Human Animal in Western Art and Science (Chicago). He has published and broadcast extensively on Leonardo da Vinci, including the prize-winning Leonardo da Vinci. The marvellous works of nature and man and Leonardo (both Oxford). His Christ to Coke. How image becomes icon (Oxford) which looks at 11 representatives of types of icons across a wide range of public imagery. He has written regularly for Nature, published as Visualisations and developed as Seen and Unseen (both Oxford) in which his concept of “structural intuitions” is explored.
He has been a Trustee of the National Galleries of Scotland, The Victoria and Albert Museum and British Museum. He has curated and co-curated a series of exhibitions on Leonardo and other themes, including Spectacular Bodies at the Hayward Gallery in London and Leonardo da Vinci. Experience, Experiment, Design at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2006 and Seduced. Sex and Art from Antiquity to Now, Barbican Art Gallery London, 2007.
He is now full-time speaking, writing and broadcasting.