Dean Meeker (1920–2002) began his art career painting posters in high school. He went on to become an internationally known printmaker and sculptor, receiving many major awards, and becoming a legend during his forty-six years on the art faculty at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Unflagging curiosity, invention, and a love of teaching marked his life. Hired in 1948 at Madison to teach drawing and painting, he was passionate about all media and believed that artistic principles were best discovered through exploration, rather than by following established practices and dogma.
Meeker’s art in two or three dimensions is predominantly figurative. Stories from the Bible and classical mythology—subjects he was introduced to as a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and at Northwestern University—offered enticing visuals and narratives, often with moral components. Larger-than-life characters from these sources such as Joseph, Ulysses, Icarus, Pegasus, and Alexander the Great were depicted in addition to more recent figures such as Sancho Panza and Harry Houdini.
This selection of prints belatedly celebrates the centenary of Meeker’s birth, and showcases both a master printmaker’s technical virtuosity and a visual characterization of timeless and treasured stories.