The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
This work comprises seven rectangular plates of glass and seven tables made of ash. The glass plates can be set up separately against one or more walls of the exhibition space with one of the short sides standing on the ground, but they can also serve as a table top. Each time that the work is exhibited, Mullican determines the place and position of the glass plates again. Tables without a tabletop are not set up. There is a picture etched into the glass plates. One plate shows a piece of nature: a landscape with dunes and a plant, as well as a cross section of the soil. The other illustrations consist of pictograms or signs reminiscent of these. There is always a “central field”, a “frame” and connections between them with perpendicular, diagonal or curved lines. Some of the signs are recognizable pictograms, such as a lock, a telephone and a shaft of lightning, while others are completely abstract.
From the 1970s Mullican worked on the development of his own cosmology. Everything that was part of the world, whether material or immaterial, was given a place in this. Mullican divided it into five levels. The first level is concerned with unformed material, the elements, a primal condition, while the fifth level comprises thinking, the mind, the personal. The levels between these are stages in which man has a greater or lesser grasp of the things around him, in which he experiences things that are present only as being present, or assigns a meaning to them, arranges them, forms them and codes them. In his work, Mullican gives a visual translation of his cosmology using all sorts of materials and techniques for this, from objects which he found to pictograms and diagrams or charts which he designed himself.
Sometimes Mullican integrated his work in public spaces. For example, the etched glass plates in 'Untitled' are examples of diagrams or charts that he designed. The lines on these can be read as various connecting paths from the middle to the edge. At the same time, they form patterns which continue from one chart to the next when they are placed side by side. In this way there is interaction between the different parts. In his works, Mullican usually refers to the different levels within his cosmology. The plate with the landscape refers to the lowest levels, to existing situations. With his charts and pictograms he referred to the higher levels in which man uses signs and codes. By using a neutral iconography (the pictograms and diagrams) Mullican’s work looks objective. However, it is a representation of a very personal view, of the relationship between man and the world.
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