Lee Mullican Biography

Lee Mullican



Lee Mullican, painter, printmaker, and teacher, was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma December 2, 1919. 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. Mullican stated that his initial sense of abstraction stemmed from his work as a topographical draftsman using aerial photography and mapping techniques during World War II.

At the invitation of printer Jack Stauffacher, Mullican moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1946. He met Gordon Onslow Ford, Wolfgang Paalan, Jacqueline Johnson, and Luchita Huardo, his future bride, and he studied printmaking with Stanley William Hayter at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco. Onslow Ford, Paalan and Mullican formed the Dynaton group which proved highly influential despite its short life. The group had disbanded by 1951 when the celebrated Dynaton exhibition was mounted at the San Francisco Museum of Art. 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.” Mullican’s printmaking is discussed in detail on page 92 in The Stamp of Impulse, Abstract Expressionist Prints by David Acton, Worcester Art Museum, 2001.

Lee Mullican had numerous solo exhibitions and his work is represented in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; the Denver Art Museum, Colorado; the Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan; the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas; the British Museum, London; the Hammer Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California; the  Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana; Oakland Museum of California; the Musée de'Art Moderne de Paris; the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh; the Roswell Art Museum, New Mexico; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California; the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California; the New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe; and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago, Chile.

Lee Mullican died in Santa Monica, California on July 7, 1998.