James McMullan on the grid

January 19th, 2012 by Beth Kleber

James McMullan Collection Box 1 Folder 6: illustration for unknown publication.

I’m not sure there’s a greater significance to James McMullan’s use of grids in his art, but I noticed them in sufficient number to start thinking about why they might have appealed to him.  The grids impose order, but I’ve always thought of McMullan’s work as deceptively methodical.  He often creates works based on staged photographs, and at first glance, the drawings can appear to be a wholly faithful representation.  A close look, however, reveals something brooding and wistful, maybe dangerous.  The grids add a sense of being confined and a longing for escape (intentional or not).

James McMullan Collection Box 1 Folder 6: illustration for unknown publication.

p(caption). James McMullan Collection Box 2 Folder 4: original art for unknown publication.

p(caption). James McMullan Collection Box 2 Folder 10: Four-Stroke book jacket, 1974.

Some abstracted versions of the grid:

James McMullan Collection Box 2 Folder 1: Cover for Push Pin Graphic, "Notorious Subjects as Children," No. 47, 1964.

James McMullan Collection Box 1 Folder 6: illustration for unknown publication.

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A treasure trove of art and graphics from The Milton Glaser Design Archives. Rare, unseen printed work, original art, and drafts for design and illustration by Glaser, Heinz Edelmann, Seymour Chwast, George Tscherny, James McMullan, and others. For even more design ephemera and art from the School of Visual Arts, see also http://containerlist.glaserarchives.org.

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