press release

For over fifty years, Lee Mullican (1919-98) created paintings, drawings, and sculptures of great beauty and almost shamanistic power. His abstractions simultaneously engage the eye, the mind, and the heart, with their combination of visual beauty, a fine application of paint, and a broad range of influences and references including Native American art and culture, modern art, Byzantine icons, Paleolithic figures, Zen Buddhism, Hinduism, and beyond. Lee Mullican: An Abundant Harvest of Sun is the first major retrospective of Mullican—who was central to the development of art in the Los Angeles area—and the first major exhibition of his paintings in more than 20 years. Born in Oklahoma, Mullican first became interested in art as a child and subsequently studied at the Kansas City Art Institute. During a stint in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, he served as a topographical draftsman, working with aerial photographs, which he loved for their “patterns of vegetation, networks of roads, meanderings of rivers, and the contours of the earth.” and which had a significant impact on his subsequent imagery. From 1948-52 Mullican lived in San Francisco, working and showing with the Dynaton group (including Wolfgang Paalen and Gordon Onslow Ford); steeped in Surrealism and interested in the cosmic as well as what they called “inner space,” these artists created powerful abstractions. In 1952 Mullican moved to southern California, eventually joining the faculty at UCLA. Over the five decades of his career, Mullican forged a unique style and place for himself as an artist. Eschewing the grandeur and heroicism of the Abstract Expressionists (his New York-based contemporaries), he chose a quieter, more personal vocabulary to investigate both the inner world and the cosmos though his art.


Lee Mullican: An Abundant Harvest of Sun
Kurator: Carol S. Eliel