Quartette of Spider Sounds

Lee Mullican
Quartette of Spider Sounds
Charcoal and ink on wove paper, 1950
sheet 25-1/8 x 18 7/8 inches; image 22-3/4 x 18-1/2 inches
Museum purchase with funds provided through prior gift of Lois Outerbridge

Quartette of Spider Sounds is a quintessential Dynaton expression, deriving from Lee Mullican’s quiet study and envelopment by the forests of the Bay Area, where he developed a shamanic sensitivity to the world around him. The work, an aerial view, is an evocation of symphonic engagement in nature and of psychic and cosmic interconnectedness.

The Dynaton helped set the tone for art in Northern California in the 1950s, contributing to both Beat and funk art. Even so, soon after the 1951 exhibition, the Dynaton group disbanded and Mullican moved to Santa Monica, where he lived until his death. Though he found inspiration in his early breakthroughs with the group in San Francisco, and he continued to follow an approach to abstraction that acknowledged spiritual forces, his far-ranging contribution to art was only just beginning at the time of the Dynaton. Mullican taught in the UCLA art department from 1962 to 1990 and, through his art and teaching, ever widened his lasting international legacy.