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Lee Mullican

 (1919 - 1998)
Lee Mullican was active/lived in California, Oklahoma.  Lee Mullican is known for non objective and figurative abstract imagery-luminous.

Lee Mullican

Biography from Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery (Artists I-Q)

Reared in the Midwestern suburb of Chickasha, Oklahoma, Lee Mullican was born on December 2, 1919 to Harris Nichols Mullican (1884-1972) and Zula Jolley Mullican (1887-1974).  Introduced to art by his mother, an amateur painter, Mullican's first attempt at painting came with the aid of her art supplies at the age of 15.  Satisfying the wishes of his father, he initially enrolled at Abilene Christian College for two years before transferring to the University of Oklahoma for a year.  Here he established his first off-campus studio -- followed by a brief enrollment at Kansas City Art Institute.

After being drafted into the US Army corps of engineers in 1941, he attended topographic school in Ft. Belvoir, Virginia before being stationed in Hawaii and eventually Japan.  With an abundance of available drawing supplies, access to internationally renowned museums, and the influence of art publications such as Wolfgang Paalen's Dyn, Mullican used his considerable spare time during the war to foster artistic development.

Mullican was invited to San Francisco in 1946 by Jack Stauffacher, a printer whom he had befriended during the war.  Here, he devoted most of his time to drawing and, when finances permitted, painting.  A Mullican painting hanging in Stauffacher's printing studio was discovered by the former British Surrealist Gordon Onslow Ford. Immediately taking him under his wing, Onslow Ford introduced Mullican to the members of the San Francisco art community, including Wolfgang Paalen and his wife Luchita Hurtado.  Mullican, Paalen, and Onslow Ford quickly formed a collaborative artistic circle, culminating with the exhibition Dynaton in 1951. 

With Paalen and his wife already divorced by this point, Mullican and Luchita Hurtado began a relationship and moved to Los Angeles after the birth of their son.  They subsequently married in 1954.  While basing his career mostly in Santa Monica, Mullican traveled alongside his family on multiple occasions.  After spending three years (1955-58) in Sao Paulo, Brazil on an artist exchange program, he received the Guggenheim Fellowship and set up studio in Rome for a year (1959-60).  Until his death on July 8, 1998, Mullican worked predominantly in the Los Angeles area, consistently exhibiting while holding a teaching position at UCLA.

Biography from Levis Fine Art
Reluctant to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors and the current art world trends, Lee Mullican, a California artist, worked steadfastly in the Los Angeles area for most of his career, teaching, painting and quietly exhibiting.

Mullican's style is drawn from a variety of sources, most importantly, his position in the army as an aerial topographer in the early 1940's. "The process of ingraining shapes and patterns from a bird's-eye perspective eventually cultivated Mullican's pre-existing appreciation for naturalistic forms and abstract patterns and later became his signature style".  His paintings represent the juxtaposition between the natural, chaotic world, the linear, scientific one and the mystic elements of ancient cultures.

In addition to studying under prominent Surrealist Gordon Onslow Ford and local artist Wolfgang Paalen, Mullican won the Guggenheim Fellowship, allowing him to study in Rome in 1959.  His works remain in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian, MoMA in both Paris and New York City, the San Francisco Museum of Art and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

© 2008 Levis Fine Art, Inc.

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About  Lee Mullican

Born:  1919 - Chickasha, Oklahoma
Died:   1998
Known for:  non objective and figurative abstract imagery-luminous