James McMullan

Hello World: The Life of Drawings by James McMullan

November 17 – December 17, 2022

Bienvenu Steinberg & J proudly presents Hello World: The Life Drawings of James McMullan. Born in 1934 in Tsingtao, North China, James McMullan lives and works in New York City. Internationally recognized for his renowned editorial illustrations for magazines such as  New York, Esquire, Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, and for the more than eighty posters he has created for the theater at the Lincoln Center, the artist is also a teacher of drawing at New York’s School of Visual Arts.  


Concurrent with his distinguished public career, McMullan has developed a large body of figure drawings in gouache. The exhibition features a selection of works created over the last three years, now exhibited  for the first time. They  explore the dynamic physicality of bodies in motion and the unspoken dialogue between model and artist.


Speaking of the gouache drawings, McMullan notes "I I use color to express my intuitive response to the psychology and life force of each of the men I draw (…) One choice after another, impelled by a vision of spirit rather than muscle and bone. The tension, beauty, difficulty, gracefulness, fluidity, sexuality that open my mind and my hand to this man standing in front of me in all his challenging reality." Inherent in the drawings is an immediacy and urgency generated by the need to execute the works within the real time of the subject’s pose - a physical challenge for both parties. The vitality of the experience is forcefully conveyed to the viewer. McMullan explores the  rhythm of bodies in motion and also the excitement and fraught psychological complexity between subject and portraitist. 


The exhibition's opening will coincide will the launch of Hello World: The Body Speaks in the Drawings of Men. Published by Pointed Leaf Press, the book showcases McMullan’s unparalleled ability to explore the beauty of the physical form. Signed copies of the book will be available at the gallery. Other books by McMullan include Revealing Illustrations, The Theater Posters of James McMullan, and Leaving China, an illustrated memoir of his WWII childhood.