Lee Mullican Biography

Lee Mullican



Lee Mullican was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma December 2, 1919. He developed an early interest in Native American art. which led to a lifetime involvement with ethnic, primitive and folk art forms. Before his induction into the U.S. Army in 1942 he studied art at Abilene Christian College, the University of Oklahoma and the Kansas City Art Institute, where he studied with Fletcher Martin. He said that his initial sense of abstraction stemmed from his work during World War II as a topographical draftsman using aerial photography and mapping techniques. As a topographical draftsman he specialized in vegetation patterns and the abstractions of nature.

Moving to the Bay Area in 1947 at the invitation of printer Jack Stauffacher, Mullican began painting with the printer's knife technique and met Gordon Onslow Ford, Wolfgang Paalan, Jacqueline Johnson and Luchita Huardo, his future bride. He studied printmaking with Stanley William Hayter in 1950 in San Francisco. Beginning with his participation in the influential Dynaton group in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1950s, with Gordon Onslow Ford and Wolfgang Paalen, Lee Mullican played an important role in the art communities of both Northern and Southern California. Mullican was singled out by the San Francisco Museum of Art for one-man shows and for the celebrated Dynaton exhibition of 1951. When the Los Angeles County Museum of Art presented the exhibition Dynaton Revisited in 1977, it called the Dynaton movement "a Bay Area alternative to the New York School of 1950."

Lee Mullican's one-man exhibitions have appeared at the San Francisco Museum of Art, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (retrospective, 1980); Pasadena Art Museum; Willard Gallery, New York and in the Western United States and Europe. His paintings and sculpture are included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Museum of Modern Art, Paris, San Francisco Museum of Art, and Phillips Collection, Washington D.C., among others

Lee Mullican died in Santa Monica, California on July 7, 1998. Mullican's printmaking is discussed in detail on page 92 in the book "The Stamp of Impulse, Abstract Expressionist Prints" by David Acton, Worcester Art Musem, 2001.