Matt Mullican: Winner of the Possehl Prize for International Art 2022

  • The jury with members of internationally renowned art institutions has selected the American artist Matt Mullican as the second winner...

    Matt Mullican. Courtesy Galerie Mai 36 Zurich. Ph.: Max Ehrengruber

    The jury with members of internationally renowned art institutions has selected the American artist Matt Mullican as the second winner of the Possehl Prize for International Art. The award and the opening of his solo exhibition in Lübeck will take place in October 2022. The jury thus recognizes Mullican's life's work, which continues to exert a decisive influence on younger generations of artists today.

    With the Possehl Prize for International Art, the Possehl Foundation honors living artists of national and international renown for their life's work or an outstanding work or group of works. Since 2019, it has been awarded every three years, making Mullican the second recipient.


    Read more in Monopol Magazin.

  • Since the 1970s, Matt Mullican’s multi-media artistic practice has been concerned with signification, representation and knowledge systems. Mullican investigates how signifying processes function and how objects become charged with meaning. This has led him to establish his own subjective 5-part classification system, which he calls his “theory of the five worlds”. In this cosmology, each colour corresponds to different levels of perception: green stands for material, blue for the everyday world, yellow for ideas, white and black for language and red for the subjective. This non-verbal language system of signs and pictograms is the common thread throughout his work, which ranges in media across painting, sculpture, drawing and photography, to film, neon, stained glass works, rubbings, installation and also performance.


    Mullican’s work not only questions the nature of reality and the universal order’s perceived truths, but also highlights the “constructed-ness” of our world. Similarly, he explores unconscious perception and interpretation through hypnotherapy, at times undergone with an audience as a public performance. In this way, his artistic practice can be regarded as an attempt to provide alternative models for explaining the world and our existence.


  • In this past year, the artist has continually devoted himself thoroughly to making art despite the circumstances and producing further exhibitions; he has through this developed new modes of production to further expand his cosmology. The sets of watercolors on wood, a medium the artist has only recently begun making use of, entitled Things Change in Heaven, make reference to his hypnosis performance of the same name, alluding to a key element of his early practice. Both the performances and the paintings deal with the ever-present existential tropes: such as life after death, and heaven and hell. These forms re-occur throughout the artist's practicw, as well as in his painted icons, characteristic of the ever-present underlying interconnections of his works.

  • Matt Mullican, Untitled (Demon & Angel), 2014

    Matt Mullican

    Untitled (Demon & Angel), 2014 Gouache and oil stick rubbing on canvas
    Two parts
    Each: 200 x 200 cm / 78.7 x 78.7 inches
    € 75,000.00
  • With the pair of large-scale rubbings named All I See Are Light PatternsIn this work, the artist continues his long use of this unique “frottage” technique, in which the canvas is placed on a cardboard plate, which is then rubbed with an oil stick to transfer an image. Since the plate can be reused for further rubbings, the imagery may reappear in different figurations. The 2021 rubbing depicts the forms of the artist’s usually recognisable world dissolving, and in grayscale, introducing a dystopian element into his world cosmology.

  • Matt Mullican, Untitled (Behind that Person), 2011

    Matt Mullican

    Untitled (Behind that Person), 2011 Gouache and oil stick rubbing on canvas
    191 x 124.2 cm
    75.3 x 48.9 inches
    € 40,000.00
  • Mullican is considered a member of the “Pictures Generation” and rose to fame in the early 1980s alongside his contemporaries Cindy Sherman, David Salle and Robert Longo, to name a few. The artist has been the subject of many solo shows and retrospectives, namely at the MAC’s – Musée des Arts Contemporains, Grand-Hornu, Belgium (2020); Thomas Schütte Stiftung, Neuss/Holzheim, Germany (2019); de Young Museum, San Francisco (2019); Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan (2018); Kunstmuseum Winterthur (2016); Camden Arts Centre, London (2016); Museo Tamayo, Mexico City (2013); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2011); Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2005); Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (1997) and many more. His work is found in numerous international public and private collections, notably the MoMA, New York, Tate Modern, London, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Haus der Kunst, Munich, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris.