Richard McLean

Born: 1934 - Hoquiam, WA Richard McLean's paintings re-awaken us to the dormant joy of observation. McLean concerns himself with apparently sentimental subjects to achieve a consummate brutalism. McLean derives his Kodachromes from the deadly black & white photos of national horse monthlies magazines dedicated to breeding and showmanship, with illustrations of handsome horses, their owners, trainers, stables and equipage. Horses are not the love of McLean's life: it's the photos he adores and --with their posed formalization of reality-- fanatically transmits. Sharp 'Hollywoodian" colors create and heighten the estrangement and such curiously modernist devices as flattening the foreground and the background enhance the compositional images by exaggeratedly bringing them to the fore. In 1955 he married Darlene Young, and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to continue his studies at the California College of Arts and Crafts where he earned his BFA. In 1962 he was awarded an MFA from Mills College in Oakland. He was also Professor Emeritus at San Francisco State University where he taught for thirty years. Despite the cool seriality of his work, McLean introduces a psychological element; the more accurate the rendering of the photo and the more exaggerated the realism, the more imaginative the paintings are. McLean and his fellow realists seem to have an almost styleless style. They seem to be able to take their paintings on without the burden of personal style. It is the selection of subjects and individual philosophy that creates a presence of more than mere technical mastery. He is represented in New York City by OK Harris Works of Art, a gallery with whom he has been associated since 1970. McLean's work is included in numerous private and public collections in the U.S. and abroad including The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Guggenheim Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Yale University Art Gallery, The Ludwig Museum of Modern Art in Vienna, Boijmans Museum in Rotterdam, the Netherlands and the Kunstmuseum in Hanover, Germany. He continues to exhibit widely, having recently concluded exhibitions in Denmark, Austria, Italy, France, and Japan.
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