Martin Mull with his painting, State of the Union, which gives its name to the show at Samuel Freeman Gallery

Martin Mull/ Martin Eugene Mull

United States 1943

Photorealism

Martin Mull
Martin Eugene Mull
Male
United States
1943

Known for his photorealistic paintings and small pencil drawings, Martin Mull is a prolific American artist inspired by the visual culture and aesthetics of post-war America. Besides being a painter, Mull is also a successful actor, comedian, and singer. Drawing the inspiration from both lifestyle magazines and life experience, Mull adjusts the visual material, aiming to be against the frameworks of collective memory and cultural restlessness. Throughout his successful career in stand-up comedy, film and television, he is a confirmed satirist and his paintings face the comedy with the even amount of sorrow, pushing the limits beyond the irony to achieve a deeper meaning.

Martin Mull - Showing, photo credits alfa-img.com series people episode movies night edit roseanne television voice news movie privacy policy series people episode movies home night edit roseanne voice
Martin Mull – Showing, photo credits alfa-img.com

American Artistic Activism

Born in 1943, in Chicago, his family moved to New Canaan, Connecticut, where he finished the public high school. He studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he received his BFA, and later MFA degree. His painting career started during the 70’s, since when his work has been exhibited in numerous group and solo shows. It is also included in the permanent collection of many museums, as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, The Whitney Museum of Art, New York and the Total Contemporary Art Museum, Seoul. Mull was the one of the participants of the protest exhibition Flush with the Walls in the men’s room of the Boston Museum of Art, held on June 15, 1971 when the group of artists underlined the lack of contemporary and local art in the museum.

His work is a part of numerous permanent museum collections

Martin Mull - Tea Party, 2010, photo credits consumergrouch.com comedian america contact shows 1977 series people episode movies home night edit roseanne voice white family news movie privacy
Martin Mull – Tea Party, 2010, photo credits consumergrouch.com

Rising the Collective Memory

Combining the photorealism, pop art and collage, Mull’s paintings are melancholy with the hidden dark humor in some of them. Using the old photos, both personal and found, he revives the past time of the rising American society. Partially black and white with emphasized shadows, the surfaces merge with the muted pastel colors, which seems like the photos were kept in the old album for a long time. Representing the frozen moments from the subconscious, each scene could be a segment of the long story or life situation that will never end and reveal the final answer. The essence of his paintings is hidden in a term “ineluctable human condition”, showing the consequences of man’s resistance to his own nature. For example, the Tea Party, 2010, represent American women with the raised guns toward the unseen enemy, indicating the Cold War terror during the 50’s.

Mull’s works explore the consequences of man’s resistance to his own nature

Martin Mull - Leap of Faith, 2011, photo credits benbrownfinearts.com comedian america contact shows 1977 series people episode movies night edit roseanne voice white family news movie privacy
Martin Mull – Leap of Faith, 2011, photo credits benbrownfinearts.com

Comedy and Satire in Every Career

Mull’s estimations are usually dark and inauspicious and it seems that his figures could suddenly vanish into the cloud of smoke. He questions the people’s choices which determine the faith, both collective and individual. Recalling his own childhood, his paintings made of old photographs, illustrations and wallpapers reflect American society from the 50’s. Romantic feelings of the past times are opposed to the Pop Art irony. Also known as a comic actor and satirist, Mull successfully adjusts all of his careers. Working on a familiar American terrain, it was not hard for him to conjoin banality and surreal with optimism and despair. Skillfully balanced between the hidden and revealed, his paintings remain open to discovery, trying not to impose judgment.

Martin Mull lives and works in Los Angeles.

Featured image: Martin Mull with his painting, State of the Union, which gives its name to the show at Samuel Freeman Gallery
All images used for illustrative purpose only

YearExhibition titleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2014Endgame Hirschl & Adler Moder, New YorkSolo
2014Our American Life Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New YorkGroup
2013State of the Union Samuel Freeman, Los AngelesSolo
2012Leap of Faith Ben Brown Fine Arts, London Solo
2010Split Infinitives Samuel Freeman, Santa Monica Solo
2010WitnessCarl Hammer, Chicago Solo
2010The Four Seasons Stellan Holm Gallery, New York Solo
2010The Eight SeasonsBen Brown Fine Arts, London Solo
2010Recent PaintingsSeomi Gallery, Seoul Solo
2010Lust and Vice from Dürer to Nauman Kunstmuseum, Bern Group
2009WinterWaterColorLand Samuel Freeman, Santa Monica Group
2008Seven Deadly SinsStellan Holm Gallery, New York Solo
2007The Pursuit of HappinessBen Brown Fine Arts, London Solo
2006Adventures in a Temperate Climate: A Retrospective of Paintings by Martin Mull Las Vegas Art Museum, Las Vegas Solo
2006FiggeArt Museum, Davenport Solo
2005Contemplation of Assets Spike Gallery, New York Solo
2004Admissible Evidence Spike Gallery, New York Solo
2004Martin Mull, Jennifer Bartlett, Elizabeth Murray Mills College, Oakland Group
2003Martin MullCarl Hammer Gallery, ChicagoSolo
2003Jim Dine and Martin Mull Bentley Gallery, ScottsdaleDuo
2002Martin MullRena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco Solo
2002Martin MullPatricia Faure Gallery, Santa Monica Solo
2001Martin Mull David Beitzel Gallery, New YorkSolo
2001Martin MullBentley Gallery, Scottsdale Solo
2001Steve Martin: A Private Collection Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, Las VegasGroup
2000Martin MullRena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco Solo
2000Martin MullCarl Hammer Gallery, ChicagoSolo
2000UnknownRena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco Group
2000UnknownPatricia Faure Gallery, Santa Monica Group
2000UnknownJan Baum Gallery, Los Angeles Group
2000UnknownDavid Beitzel Gallery, New York Group
1999Martin MullPatricia Faure Gallery, Santa Monica Solo
1999Martin MullDavid Beitzel Gallery, New York Solo
1999UnknownRena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco Group
1999UnknownCarl Hammer Gallery, Chicago Group
199820-20 Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville Solo
1998Martin MullRena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco Solo
1998Precious Jan Baum Gallery, Los AngelesGroup
1998Knowing Children David Beitzel Gallery, New York Group
1998The Painting Show Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco Group
1997Martin MullDavid Beitzel Gallery, New York Solo
1997Martin MullCarl Hammer Gallery, Chicago Solo
1997UnknownRena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco Group
1997Eclectic Collaborative FACT Art Exhibition, Space Laguna Beach Group
1996Martin MullBentley Gallery, Scottsdale Solo
1996Screen Memories K & E Gallery, New York Solo
1996The Horse Show Morris Museum, MorristownSolo
1996Martin MullDavid Beitzel Gallery, New York Solo
1996Martin MullGreenville County Museum of Art Greenville Solo
1996Referencing Innocence Not Weingart Gallery, Occidental College Los Angeles Group
1996A Selection of Classics Dorothy Goldeen Gallery Santa Monica Group
1995Martin Mull Cleveland Center of Contemporary Art Cleveland Solo
1995Insight David Bietzel Gallery New York Solo
1995UnknownDavid Bietzel Gallery New York Group
1995Collage in the 20th CenturyLouis Stern Fine Arts, Los Angeles Group
1994Martin MullDorothy Goldeen Gallery Santa Monica Solo
1994UnknownDavid Bietzel Gallery New York Group
1993Martin Mull Dorothy Goldeen Gallery Santa Monica Solo
1993UnknownFourth Newport Biennial NewportGroup
1993UnknownDavid Bietzel Gallery, New YorkGroup
1993UnknownMichael Dunev Gallery, San Francisco Group
1993Laughing Matters Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Los Angeles Group
1993Paper Trails: The Eidectic Image Krannert Museum of Art, Champaign Group
1993Ten Artists from the West CoastTotal Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul Group
1992Martin MullHelander Gallery, West Palm Beach Solo
1992Martin MullBarbara Singer Gallery, Boston Solo
1992Martin MullWake Forest University Fine Arts GallerySolo
1991Martin MullHelander Gallery, West Palm Beach Solo
1984Martin Mull Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles Solo
1983UnknownMolly Barnes Gallery, Los Angeles Group
1983 UnknownGallery Henoch, New York Group
1983ToysGreenville County Museum of Art, Greenville Group
1982Martin MullMolly Barnes Gallery, Los Angeles, CA Solo
1980Martin MullMolly Barnes Gallery, Los AngelesSolo
1973Eat Art Cincinnati Institute of Contemporary Art, Cincinnati Group
1973Smart Ducky, Umbrella of FitchburgBoston Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston Group
1972Flush With the Walls Boston Museum of Fine Arts, BostonGroup