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 Bill McLean  (1929 - )

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Lived/Active: Texas      Known for: painting

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Ad Code: 4
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from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Heritage Auctions (
Born and raised in Fort Worth, Bill McLean studied art on both coasts, first at the Cooper Union in New York and then at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco.  After earning an MFA from UC Berkeley, Bill lived and worked in New York City for a number of years in the wake of Abstract Expressionism, which had an enormous impact on his stylistic and thematic development.

He was drawn to the concept of art-making as a means of direct expression, with special access to the unconscious where everything isn't pretty and sanitized.  He decided to continue his formal academic education in France, receiving a PhD from the Sorbonne in "Ethnology."  It was during this time that the artist realized his real interest was in semiotics, which has informed his painting ever since.

His doctoral thesis, and the book resulting from it, was a ground-breaking study of the sexual graffiti that has embroidered France's capital for countless generations. McLean's The Erotic Iconography of the People (Iconographie populaire de l'érotisme, Maisonneuve et Larose, Paris, 1970) was an important addition to the literature on graffiti, because this highly perishable form of folk expression had not been taken seriously up to that time.  This has changed dramatically since McLean's book appeared, notably with the meteoric rise of talents such as Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988), whose paintings took graffiti as their primary iconographic device.

Returning to the U.S. in the late 70s, Bill continues to live and work in Fort Worth. A prolific artist who experiments with various media and supports, Bill McLean paints with a graphic boldness, which incorporates vestigial figurative imagery into compositions of pure painterly abstraction.

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