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Matt Mullican (United States)

Santa Monica, California, 1953


Mullican tries to get a grip on reality with pictograms.

The work of Matt Mullican is spread over four different sites along the watercourse. Mullican constructed a flower box and had all sorts of icons and pictograms engraved in blue stone. Some of these were designed by the artist himself, whereas others were picked up in stations, airports and museums.

On one of the slabs of stone by the wooden bridge, for instance, you may recognise the layout of Middelheim-Laag, the site used for the New Sculptures exhibition in 1993. Pictograms help us get a grip on reality. They show us the way, making society easier to deal with. They also lay the foundation for writing.

Matt Mullican has developed an entire cosmology through the use of signs, or rather a representation of one. Everything has its place in Mullican’s sign system: from unformed matter, through the world, art and language ordered by human beings, to the spiritual plane. However, Mullican does not bring us any closer to the world or any kind of truth as such. On the contrary, he emphasises the visual nature
of his pictograms. He examines, for example, the way in which different supports modify the impact of a sign.

Blue stone immediately lends a different weight to them than when they are casually sketched on paper as preliminary designs. The broader context will also influence our interpretation. The context of the park enlarges Mullican’s images and endows them with greater significance. Conversely, the adjoining water and the bridge are charged with meaning. Do these signs tell us something about their surroundings? There are certainly no conclusive interpretations to be formed here.


Number 33 on the map


  • Untitled
  • 1993
  • Variable dimensions
  • Soignies bluestone
  • MIDW475

Sculpture realised for the exhibition ‘New Sculptures’, organised by Bart Cassiman, project manager Contemporary Art for Antwerp 93, Cultural Capital of Europe.

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