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b. 1951, USA

Matt Mullican Biography

American artist Matt Mullican has spent the past several decades searching for universalities from which to make sense of the world. Interested in semiotics and the nature of perception, Mullican's prolific four-decade output comprises drawing, performance, sculpture, painting, film, and installation.

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Early Works

Mullican was born in Santa Monica to artists Lee Mullican and Luchita Hurtado in 1951, and studied under John Baldessari at CalArts in the early 1970s. Since then, he has been structuring his thoughts through lexicons, invented symbols, cosmological drawings, and expansive organisational charts.

Mullican is associated with the Pictures Generation, who came of age in America in the 1970s and engaged with media culture of the time. In 2009, his work was featured alongside those of his contemporaries Cindy Sherman, Sherrie Levine, Jack Goldstein, Barbara Kruger, and Richard Prince, among others, in the survey exhibition The Pictures Generation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

In the 1980s, Mullican began drawing elaborate maps of a fictitious city, partnering with a Hollywood IT company to render the metropolis in the virtual reality production, The Computer Project (1986–1990), and a series of light boxes, Untitled (1989).

Colour and Themes

One recurring system in Mullican's oeuvre relies on colour to denote five 'worlds': the material world (green), everyday life (blue), culture and science (yellow), language (black and white), and subjective experience (red). Mullican's book, the limited edition 88 Maps (2010), collects forty years of the artist's personal symbologies and organisational systems, structured through his base colours of red, blue, yellow, and green, One of his most well-known motifs features an ageless, genderless stick-figure alter ego dubbed 'Glen', whom Mullican developed to represent both himself and the generic ideal of an artist. First appearing in drawings in the 1970s, Glen still appears in Mullican's work to this day.

Occasionally, Mullican touches upon darker themes such as death, despair, and isolation. Drawing on his interest in psychic forces, Mullican regularly engages with themes of transcendence and exploring the subconscious. In the early 1970s, he began experimenting with hypnosis as a means to gain access to his inner self, putting himself under a trance in front of an audience and keeping a 'travel diary' of his experiences from which to draw inspiration for later works.

Exhibitions

Much like his organisation of ideas, Mullican's exhibitions are often dense and labyrinthine. The Feeling of Things, a 2018 survey at Pirelli Hangar Bicocca Museum in Milan, contained 6000 works, including enormous flags draped from the ceiling, and paintings and drawings arranged on every available surface. Similarly, Mullican's 2019 Between Sign and Subject at de Young Museum in San Francisco included a substantial arrangement of light boxes, flags, bulletin boards, and a floor-to-ceiling collection of rubbings.

Selected solo exhibitions include Matt Mullican: Representing the Five Worlds - 50 Years of Work, Mai 36, Zurich (2020); That Person and That World, The Kitchen, New York (2016); Between, Capitain Petzel, Berlin (2016); Vom Ordnen der Welt, Haus der Kunst, Munich (2011); Combination of the Two, Karsten Schubert London (2008); Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York (1992); Projects: Matt Mullican, Museum of Modern Art, New York (1989).

Mullican's work has also been featured in group exhibitions including The Botanical Mind: Art, Mysticism and The Cosmic Tree, Camden Arts Centre, London (2020); Where Art Might Happen, The Early Years of CalArts, Kunsthaus Graz, Austria, and Kestnergesellschaft, Hanover, Germany (2019); Outliers and American Vanguard Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2019); Skulptur Projekte, Münster, Germany (2017); The Bottom Line, SMAK, Gent (2015); Wall Works, Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin (2013); Map the 21st Century, Serpentine Gallery, London (2010).

Mullican lives and works in Berlin and New York.

Elliat Albrecht

Exhibition view: Matt Mullican, Five Walls, Capitain Petzel (28 April–19 June 2021). © the artist. Courtesy Capitain Petzel, Berlin. Photo: Jens Ziehe.

Matt Mullican Featured Artworks

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Untitled (Demon & Angel) by Matt Mullican contemporary artwork
Matt MullicanUntitled (Demon & Angel), 2014Oil pencil and gouache on canvas, rubbing
200 x 400 cm
Capitain Petzel Enquire
Things Change in Heaven by Matt Mullican contemporary artwork
Matt MullicanThings Change in Heaven, 2021Watercolour on wood
50 x 80 cm
Capitain Petzel Enquire
Untitled (All I See Are Light Patterns) by Matt Mullican contemporary artwork
Matt MullicanUntitled (All I See Are Light Patterns), 2021Oil pencil, gouache on canvas, frottage
200 x 400 cm
Capitain Petzel Enquire
Untitled (Elements Landscape) by Matt Mullican contemporary artwork
Matt MullicanUntitled (Elements Landscape), 2016Oil stick rubbing and gouache on canvas
75 x 150 cm
Capitain Petzel Enquire
Untitled (Frame/Elements Empathy) by Matt Mullican contemporary artwork
Matt MullicanUntitled (Frame/Elements Empathy), 2016Oil stick rubbing and gouache on canvas
75 x 150 cm
Capitain Petzel Enquire
Untitled (Sign Typeface) by Matt Mullican contemporary artwork
Matt MullicanUntitled (Sign Typeface), 2016Oil stick rubbing and gouache on canvas
150 x 300 cm
Capitain Petzel Enquire
Untitled (10 Banners, Nationalgalerie Berlin) by Matt Mullican contemporary artwork
Matt MullicanUntitled (10 Banners, Nationalgalerie Berlin), 200610 nylon banner
797 x 682 cm
Galerie Thomas Schulte Contact Gallery
Untitled by Matt Mullican contemporary artwork
Matt MullicanUntitled, 2017Set of 3 neons on plexiglas
Galerie Thomas Schulte Contact Gallery

Matt Mullican Current & Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Matt Mullican, Five Walls at Capitain Petzel, Berlin
Closing Soon
28 April–19 June 2021 Matt Mullican Five Walls Capitain PetzelBerlin
Contemporary art exhibition, Matt Mullican, Red, Yellow, Green, In Time at Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin
Closed
6 July–31 August 2019 Matt Mullican Red, Yellow, Green, In Time Galerie Thomas SchulteBerlin

Matt Mullican Represented By

Matt Mullican In Related Press

Matt Mullican: Universal Perspective Related Press Matt Mullican: Universal Perspective 6 May 2020, The Brooklyn Rail

It turns out that binge watching the television show Counterpart was the perfect appetizer to Matt Mullican's latest exhibition Universal Perspective, his fifth at Peter Freeman.

Fade out copy.
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