Fran Bull (born 1938) is an American artist living and working in the United States and Barcelona, Spain.
Bull began her study of art at The Newark Museum, in Newark, New Jersey. She went on to study painting at Bennington College with Paul Feeley, and in 1980 she earned an M.A. degree from New York University in Fine Art and Art Education.
Bull became known originally for her Photorealism paintings made in the mid 1970s and 80s. Among her most famous Photorealist works are Flamingo Stereopticon, Lincoln Center Reclining Figure and Winged Narcissus. This earlier work was influenced by her mentor and ex-husband, Malcolm Morley and by the Pop spirit of Photorealism. It was shown and sold through the Louis K. Meisel Gallery in New York City and has been collected widely in Kansas City through the Morgan Gallery, owned before her death by curator and gallerist Myra Morgan. During this time, Bull was one of the most noted photo-realists along with Morley.
In the late 1980s, Bull’s art began to develop towards abstraction, or neo-abstract expressionism. Instead of seeking to depict the familiar, touchable surfaces of this world, Bull felt compelled to investigate and capture the teeming, yet unseen forces giving rise to those surfaces. In her break-through series of paintings The Magdalene Cycle (1992) for example, the large canvases seem to lay bare the hidden energies and biomorphic entities that animate and enliven the physical realm.
Sparked by her newfound approach to painting, in the mid-1990s Bull began to explore other media. Since that time her artistic output has included performance art, sculpture, mixed media, and printmaking, as well as painting. She has been especially prolific in the area of printmaking, creating numerous bodies of work in collaboration with master printer Virgili Barbara at Taller 46, a prestigious printmaking studio in Barcelona, Spain. At the height of their careers, Picasso, Tàpies, Miró and Saura also worked in this place with the founder and father of Virgili, Joan Barbara.
In 2003 Bull’s award-winning series of carborundum etchings entitled Barcelona! (2001) was exhibited at Gallerie Universitini in Plzeň, Czech Republic. The Barcelona! etchings are surging pictures whose influences are redolent of those natural structures created by the forces of wind, water and organic process. Bull has produced many diverse series of etchings that continue to be exhibited worldwide.
Bull’s most recent works on canvas, Dark Matter (2008), are relief or sculptural paintings. Bull uses the term “topographies” to describe these works. The images in the Dark Matter series appear to be growing off the canvas, and, like her earlier abstract paintings, they appear to be covering and uncovering at once, the mysteries dwelling below the visible surfaces of this world.
To the question: what are your influences and inspirations, Bull replies: The whole world, everything I see, read, learn, hear, all the art ever made, all the music, poetry and literature—what James Hillman calls the Gloria Duplex—the glorious, amazing and paradoxical array of everything.
When she is not working in Barcelona, Bull lives and works in Vermont, where in 2005 she founded Gallery in-the-Field, a fine art gallery and performance space, whose mission is to present the work of provocative, innovative living artists.
Along with the production of her own art, Bull teaches in universities and art schools throughout the United States and abroad.
Fran Bull is represented by Walker Fine Art in Denver, Colorado.