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Volume 61, Number 19    January 27, 2014         

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In Memoriam

Richard McLean
Renowned realist painter and Professor Emeritus of Art Richard McLean died at the age of 79 on Jan. 3, 2014, after an extended illness. McLean was born in 1934 in Hoquiam, Wash., and grew up in Idaho. He received his B.F.A. from the California College of Arts and Crafts (1958) where he studied with Richard Diebenkorn, and then served in the military in Okinawa before finishing his M.F.A. at Mills College (1962).

McLean first began exhibiting his work in 1957 with a solo exhibition at the legendary Lucien Labaudt Gallery in San Francisco and inclusion in two group exhibitions at the Oakland Museum. He was closely associated with the first generation of "photo-realist" painters and became best known for his meticulous paintings of horses, a series he began in 1967. His work was included in many key international exhibitions, including "Twenty-Two Realists" at the Whitney Museum of American Art (1970) and "Documenta 5" (1972) in Kassel, Germany. In 2012, his work was celebrated in a retrospective "Master Artist Tribute" exhibition at the Saint Mary’s College Museum of Art in Moraga.

Works by Richard McLean are in the permanent collection of prestigious institutions including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Oakland Museum of California and Smithsonian American Art Museum. His work has also been featured in scores of publications.

McLean was hired to teach painting and drawing at SF State in 1965 and he remained on the faculty until his retirement in 1996. His classes in life drawing were always popular, featuring beautiful set-ups and dramatic spotlighting, and he produced many gorgeous drawings working alongside his students while offering feedback with self-effacing and very dry humor.

He is survived by his wife of nearly 60 years, Darlene, and his children Ian and Caitlin. He is also much admired by generations of fellow artists and the thousands of students he trained at SF State.


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Last modified January 23, 2014 by University Communications.