On View at the Getty Center: Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970
Lee Mullican’s canvases seem to embody transcendental states of human consciousness and are inspired by various world cultures, several of which he was exposed to during his tours with the U.S. Army during World War II. In San Francisco in the early 1950s, Mullican was a member of the artist group Dynaton, whose aim was to represent the limitless realities of inner space and cosmic realms. After moving to Los Angeles in 1952, his painting techniques shifted as he began composing more unified and contemplative picture planes. This is evident in later work such as Untitled (Venice), a canvas that exhibits Mullican’s characteristically tight patterning. Using a palette knife, he painted interlocking, multicolored forms that together create a subtly textured field. The word “Venice,” inscribed in the upper left-hand corner, likely refers to the location of Mullican’s studio in the 1960s, near the ocean on Venice Boulevard.