James McMullan Collection

About the Collection

James McMullan is one of America’s most important illustrators. He is best known for his acclaimed theater posters for Lincoln Center, and has also designed and illustrated many book jackets, album covers, and magazine articles. McMullan was born in 1934 in Tsingtao, China and studied art at the Pratt Institute in New York City. He joined Push Pin Studios in 1966, where he sharpened his psychologically intense style of realism. He departed Push Pin in 1969 just as Milton Glaser and Clay Felker were starting New York Magazine and he was a member of the core group of artists who helped establish that magazine’s graphic style. McMullan designed his first Broadway poster in 1976, which led to a long relationship with Lincoln Center and his creation of many posters for the theater. McMullan has also collaborated on six children’s books with his wife, children’s book author Kate McMullan. He began teaching at the School of Visual Arts in 1969 and in 1987 he inaugurated his High-Focus Drawing Program at SVA, which later resulted in a book on his distinctive approach to life drawing. The James McMullan Collection documents McMullan's career as an illustrator and designer, from his student and early portfolio work in the 1950s to the present day. The collection is composed of original art and sketches, plus print examples of posters, book jackets, album covers, and magazine illustrations.

Watercolor illustration of pink shower tiles with the word "Lake" spelled in spilled water. In the middle, a circular cutaway showing a woman's legs in an overflowing bathtub, with a rubber duck and a gray parrot perched on her knee. Lake. "Paradise Island" album cover. 12.25 x 12.25. 1979.
Book cover with a drawing of a woman smoking a cigarette against an ornate pattern. E.P. Dutton. "Justine" book cover. c. 1961.
Color watercolor illustration of an elephant surrounded by foliage; an ornate building is visible in the background. New York Zoological Society. Bronx Zoo poster original art. 14 x 17. 1989.
Magazine cover of a watercolor illustration of a Hawaiian woman wearing a flower lei which morphs into a large map of Hawaii. Los Angeles Times "West" magazine. "Hawaii" magazine cover. 1970.
Black ink drawings of an acrobat in a top hat and man leaning against a tree superimposed over a black-and-white photograph of a man's face. Roche Laboratories. Taractan advertisement. 1965.
Watercolor illustration of a seated man in a prison uniform smoking a cigarette against a primarily white background with a red border. Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi book cover original art. 9.5 x 6.75. 1983.
Watercolor painting of a lone man in a movie theater. A person in a yellow coat is in the foreground with their dog. Audience magazine. Pauline Kael original art. 13.5 x 10.5. c.1980.
Watercolor illustration of a muscular man in a red tank top and jeans with his hand leaning on a closed shutter, against a backdrop of public phones. New York. Hustler original art. 17.5 x 13.25. 1979.
Watercolor illustration of Charles Manson in a prison cell, wearing a white t-shirt and jeans, with his hand against the wall. Rolling Stone. Charles Manson original art. 14.75 x 11.25.
Painting of a man crouched on the ground holding shattered ceramic pieces. A woman's feet and shadow are behind him. Lincoln Center Theater. "A Fair Country" poster. 17.5 x 9. 1996.
Illustration of a man singing, standing atop two green carousel horses, grasping their poles. Lincoln Center Theater. "Carousel" poster. 46 x 24. 1994.
Watercolor painting of a man sleepwalking towards an open door in his bedroom, with a large green alarm clock superimposed. Esquire. Illustration for Vladimir Nabokov's "Transparent Things" original art. 10.5 x 9.5. 1971.