Lee Mullican was born in 1919 in Chickasha, Oklahoma and died in Los Angeles in 1998. He began drawing and painting as a child and continued in college becoming a topological draftsman in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Mullican’s works are included in the permanent collections of numerous important institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among others.
The 1950’s were a pivotal decade during which Mullican perfected the techniques he began in the late 1940's. It was during the 1950's that Mullican refined his signature use of the printer's knife to create his luminous and transcendental imagery. The artist’s style became more meditative and focused on the landscape. Mullican, along with Wolfgang Paalen and Gordon Onslow Ford, were known collectively as “the Dynaton.” This group of artists, named after the Greek word for “the possible,” acted as a bridge between the European Surrealist and American Abstract Expressionist schools. Disbanding shortly after their historic exhibition in 1951 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Dynaton explored the subconscious mind, mysticism, automatism, and the influences of ancient cultures. Mullican remained true to these ideas, and went on to develop his own highly personal imagery, exploring the concept of awareness characterized by the meditative self, surrounded by the energy of the landscape and the cosmos.
In 2005, Los Angeles County Museum of Art organized a retrospective of fifty years of the artist’s work.