Dean Jackson Meeker (1920 - 2002)

Birth date: 5/18/1920 Death date: 10/4/2002  
Birth location: Orchard, Colorado Death location: Madison, Wisconsin  
Media: Drawing , Graphic Art , Painting , Sculpture Web site:
Fair (file rating) - MWA artist file may include basic data, and additional newspaper articles, book references, exhibition information, and images that can be researched on site at MWA.

Biographical Brief

Internationally known Dane, Wisconsin print maker (monotypes, serigraphs and intaglio), sculptor (cast rolled and formed bronze, copper, stainless steel, wax, wood and marble) and teacher.
Professor Emeritus University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI and one of the first print makers to overprint silk-screens with polymer intaglio which led to his collaboration with engineer John McFee, to invent the Meeker-McFee motorized etching press.
During his tenure at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Department of Art's graphics program ranked as "world class" and "number one in the nation".
Parents, Isaac and Jeanette (Edwards) Meeker
1959, Guggenheim Fellowship used to study for one year in France
Work Experiences:
Supported himself in his early teens during the depression by painting billboards for a sign company in Colorado and later in Chicago at a Midwest signage shop he was exposed to silk-screen printing techniques..
1946-1992,  teaching career, University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Art
1950, developed the first ever university affiliated course in serigraphy.
1957, invited to exhibit the first one-person serigraphy show at the Print Department of the Art Institute of Chicago, which was instrumental in breaking the "Fine Art" barrier for this medium.
circa 1959, one-man exhibition, La Gravure Gallery, Paris France
1986, April exhibitor, "WI Figurative Works Sculpture Exhibition" West Bend Gallery of Fine Arts (later known as West Bend Art Museum and in 2007, Museum of Wisconsin Art).
1954, received the first Graduate School Research Grant awarded to Studio Art Faculty
1959, awarded the first Guggenheim Fellowship in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Art Department
Dean's work held the distinction of being the first of any faculty to be the subject of a doctoral thesis in Art History.
2010, one of the recipients of the Wisconsin Visual Art Lifetime Achievement Awards
1988, Hakone Open air Museum, Japan commissioned a large bronze sculpture entitled "Minotaur" for the 2nd Rodin Grand Prize Exhibition.  He was only one of two americans selected for this international competition, and was awarded the Utsukushi-Ga-Hara-Prize for his work.
Represented in the permanent collections of the:
Miller Art Museum, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend, WI
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
Milwaukee Art Center, Milwaukee, WI
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
circa 2011, Stephanie Meeker-Sanna (daughter of Dean Meeker) recently donated a large collection of photos,sketches and other documents from Meeker's estate to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Archives, now available for viewing at Steenbock Menorial Library.


Dean Jackson Meeker
Born 1920 in Orchard, Colorado
Died 2002 in Madison, Wisconsin
An internationally known printmaker, sculptor and professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Dean Meeker loved to teach as well as create. Inspired by an enthusiastic teacher in high school in Billings, Montana, Meeker began his life-long passion for the field of art. During the Depression he found employment as a painter for a billboard company and continued with that work after moving East to attend the Art Institute of Chicago. After serving with the army during World War II, he returned to earn a BFA in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1945 and an MFA from Northwestern University in 1947. He came to Wisconsin in 1946 to become an art instructor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Although interested in sculpture, Meeker was persuaded by students to teach silkscreen printmaking. He began experimenting with serigraphy in his own work and developed a technique of over-printing with intaglio to produce images from high-relief plates. Collaborating with engineer John McFee, he invented a motorized etching press for this innovative process.

Shifting emphasis in mid-career, he returned to his first love of sculpture. Working in bronze, copper, wood and steel, he produced hundreds of figurative and abstract forms from the small in scale to monumental.

Meeker retired in 1992 after a 46 year career at the University. He won many awards, and was widely exhibited in over 90 one-person exhibitions; as well as being represented in public and private collections around the world.

Selected One-Person Exhibitions

1957 Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, first one-person serigraphy exhibition

Selected Group Exhibitions

1950 36th Annual Exhibition of Wisconsin Art, Milwaukee Art Institute
1957  Wisconsin State Fair Festival of the Arts Exhibition, Milwaukee 
1958  11th National Print Exhibition ,Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York 
1961  The Brotherhood of Man, Jewish Community Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 
1983  Wisconsin Painters and Printmakers Charles Allis Art Museum, Milwaukee 
Wisconsin Figurative Works Sculpture Exhibition, West Bend Gallery of Fine Arts 
1991  Department of Art Faculty Exhibition, UW, Madison  (also 1994, 1995, 1999)
1998-99 150 Years of Wisconsin Printmaking, Elvehjem Museum of Art, Madison,Wisconsin


Exhibition Records in MWA archives

Dean J. Meeker bio in archive file

JS-Online: Artist Meeker was innovator in serigraphy

150 Years of Wisconsin Printmaking P. 60-61

  • Facebook icon
  • Twitter icon
  • Instagram icon
  • Flickr icon
  • Youtube icon
  • E-News icon