Archives of American Art Announces Digitization of Material Donated by Artist Matt Mullican

By the Archives

May 29, 2018

First significant compilation from a "Pictures Generation" artist in the Archives' collection spans Mullican's iconoclastic, multi-disciplinary practice

The Archives of American Art announced the digitization of 77 notebooks created by the multi-faceted artist Matt Mullican (b. 1951) that the artist gifted to the Archives from 2014 to 2017. Available on-line at the Archives’ website, the notebooks’ depth of content include hundreds of drawings and sketches, conceptual frameworks, notes, lists, calendars, travel logistics, and diary entries. It is the first major collection from a Pictures Generation artist to be donated to the Archives.

Dating from 1968 to 2017, the Mullican collection also features large sequences of gallery and exhibition files, as well as project and commission files that provide detailed documentation of his professional career, particularly from the 1980s through the 2000s.

Mullican is best known for combining performance, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, and video as a means of investigating the subjective through the intersection of communal signage and personal meaning-making. A member of the Pictures Generation that includes Jack Goldstein, Cindy Sherman, Robert Longo, and Richard Prince, among others, Mullican decodes images and signage through diagrams, patterns, and written words. The artist has also been known to examine his own subconscious through hypnotism in his quest to understand patterns and how to subvert them. The material shows the development of Mullican’s complex cosmology and multifaceted practice from his art school days to his current position as an acclaimed international artist.

Mullican said, “I wanted to have my notebooks online at the Archives of American Art because I hate locks. I didn’t want to put my notebooks in a room where they’d be locked up. Now they have the possibility of life. They are open and can live and breathe. Anyone can see them and be influenced by them. They are out in the open in the world.”