Untitled (Elements, Nature)
Untitled (Elements, Nature) (circa 1987)
Gift of Adam J. Liff and Ann Marie Plane
Matt Mullican (b. 1951, Santa Monica, CA), son of artists Lee Mullican and Luchita Hurtado, rose to prominence as a member of the loose knit “CalArts Mafia,” an assortment of artists who graduated from the California Institute of the Arts and moved to New York City in the 1970s and 1980s. At CalArts, Mullican studied in the legendary post-studio course taught by John Baldessari, alongside fellow students Jack Goldstein, David Salle, James Welling, and Troy Brauntuch. After relocating to New York, Mullican’s practice examined the signs, images, and conventions of visual representation leading him to be associated with the rise of postmodernism with a group now identified as the “Pictures Generation.”
Since the mid-1970s, Mullican has focused on the invention and exploration of a cosmological vision that collapses the distinction between matter and language. Untitled (Elements, Nature) (circa 1987) exemplifies this universe through monochrome landscapes full of symbols. Mullican divides his cosmology into categories organized by color. Dominant in this work is green, which represents the material world and nature, used to depict symbolic representations of mountains, rocks, trees, fire, and sky.
Untitled (Elements, Nature) demonstrates Mullican’s interest in the landscape tradition, reflecting Langson IMCA’s collection of California Impressionism, while also departing from a focus on representation to explore symbols and signs. This marks the first work by Matt Mullican to enter Langson IMCA’s collection, expanding our holdings of an important generation of artists who attended CalArts and joining works by his father Lee Mullican and his teacher John Baldessari.
Year acquired: 2022