Mel Hunter, American (1927 - 2004)

Mel Hunter

In the more than twenty years since Mel has decide to devote all his efforts to making original lithographs, he has produced more than 150 editions, many of them very large images. This large body of work represents retail sales to collectors in millions of dollars, a fair indication that his work is positioned squarely in the mainstream. 

Mel began as a magazine and book illustrator , his first major cover idea was sold to Galaxy magazine. Science fiction quickly moved to science, as he was accepted by Northrop Aircraft as a specialized concept illustrator, painting advanced interceptors and pilotless bombers for Pentagon evaluation. He later free-lanced, producing thousands of drawings and paintings for major publications such as National Geographic, Life,  Collier's Newsweek, Encyclopedia  Americana and many of the Time-Life books. 

In 1967 he moved his home to a farmhouse in rural Vermont, and began painting and drawing the land, the animals and birds upon it and the changing seasons of the semi-wilderness which surrounded him. There followed a lovely group of more than 150 watercolours of his series "Birds of the Northeast", all of which sold through the galleries of Abercrombie and Fitch of New York. 

In 1971, he began the first of his now more than 150 editions of original graphics. At first Mel worked in the traditional methods of stone lithography but after an accident ruined a beautiful image, he began to develop his now well-known Mylar lithographic technique.  In 1977 Mel published an article in American Artist magazine entitled "Revolution in Hand-drawn Lithography". This article caused quite a stir within the tight little printmaking community over the sanctity of the old traditional methods versus the versatility and reliability of the new. 

With his subsequent publication of "The New Lithography: The Mylar Method Manifesto", a joint public statement by six major printmaking artists,  including  Jamie Wyeth and Lowell Nesbitt and with supporting statements by Burr Millar, owner of Geo. C. Miller and Son and by Maura Giufreda, Master Printer of the American Atelier, the debate came to an abrupt end. Today, artists all over the world use the Mylar method. 

n 1976, after accidental damage to his limestone lithographic drawing, Hunter began using mylar as a medium for his lithography, and published a controversial photo-illustrated article in the American Artist Magazine entitled "Revolution in Hand-Drawn Lithography". In 1984, Hunter published his seminal hardcover textbook, The New Lithography which details the "Mylar Method", still in wide use today.

Although diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in the 1990s, Hunter died of bone cancer in February 2004. True to his final wish, an attempt was made to launch his cremated remains into space. A private launch, coordinated by Space Services Inc. on the New Frontier Flight was successful on May 22, 2012.

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