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Stuart “Stu" Mead (born October 18, 1955) is an American artist who lives and works in Berlin, Germany.
Early Life and Education
Mead was born in Waterloo, Iowa in 1955. He was born with arthrogryposis, a congenital condition affecting the joints and muscles. As a teenager, Mead was inspired by European painting and underground comics, especially those of Robert Crumb. He studied art at the University of Northern Iowa before moving with his parents to England in 1975. He studied printmaking at the Camden arts Centre in London. After returning to Iowa in 1977, he studied drawing at the University of Iowa, and in 1983 moved to Minneapolis Minnesota. In 1987 he graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, where he became acquainted with artist and future collaborator Frank Gaard.
Mead’s work includes painting, drawing, printmaking, and the production of Zines and art books. His work is inspired by popular culture, such as comics, (including Underground Comics) English seaside postcards, and cartoons appearing in cheap men's magazines of the 1950s and early 1960s. Mead also draws inspiration from “high” culture sources like European painting, (especially German modernist painters). Mead cites Picasso and Balthus as having the greatest influence on his artistic practice. Another strong influence is Bruno Bettelheim's book “The Uses Of Enchantment,” which explores the Grimm Brothers’ dark fairytales from a Freudian psychological point of view. Bettelheim’s analysis of folktales, and their use of simple , powerful archetypes to trigger deep emotional responses informed Mead's efforts to create images that engage the viewer immediately and emotionally.
In 1987, Mead began contributing to the artist zine “Art Police,” which Frank Gaard edited. Mead participated in this publication from 1987 until its final issue in 1994. “Art Police” gave Mead a forum where he could freely explore taboo themes, including adolescent sexuality, bestiality, and scatology. In 1991, Mead, (in collaboration with Frank Gaard) began publishing the zine “Man Bag.” An offshoot of Art Police, the zine focused solely on sexual images.  In 1993 Mead received the Bush Foundation Artists Fellowship, which made possible a series of trips to Europe. At this time, he began a long association with French art book publisher Le Dernier Cri, as well as with Gallery Endart in Berlin. Le Dernier Cri published a compilation of Man Bag’s six issues in 1999 called “The Immortal MAN BAG Journal of Art". In 1994 Mead started a series of paintings based on his sexually explicit drawings which were exhibited at Endart in Berlin in 1995. His paintings of this period were a subject of “The Late Great Aesthetic Taboos,  an essay included as part of “Apocalypse Culture II,” the controversial anthology, written by Adam Parfrey and published by Feral House in 2000. Mead moved to Berlin in 2000. In 2003, he participated in the exhibition "Please Don't Make Me Cry,” curated by Georgina Starr at Emily Tsingou Gallery in London. There, Mead exhibited paintings depicting girls in graveyards. In April, 2004 a group exhibition called ”When Love Turns to Poison” was held at the Kunstraum Bethanien in Berlin, showing, among other works by Mead, the painting “First Communion,” which was destroyed during the exhibition by a religion-obsessed vandal.  The exhibition of eight artists became a national scandal, with conservative newspapers declaring it pornographic and non-art. Controversy also developed around an exhibition of Mead's work at Hyaena Gallery in Burbank, California in 2008, when four artists associated with the gallery left it in protest against Mead's exhibition. In 2009 Mead participated in the exhibition loop "Öffentliche Erregung” (Public Arousal), at loop – raum für aktuelle kunst Berlin, Germany Berlin, Germany Group exhibition that dealt specifically with the gray zone where art approaches the pornographic. In 2010 Mead's work was included in a large exhibition at Villa Merkel/Bahnwarterhaus in Esslingen, Germany called "Family Jewels", in which artist Damien Deroubaix presented a family tree of the artists who have influenced his work.
- 2014 MOHS exhibit, “Stu Mead: Road to Hell”, Copenhagen, Denmark
- 2013 Galerie Crystal Ball, "Monster Girls", Berlin, Germany
- 2012 Galerie Toxic, "Order-Chaos”, Luxembourg, Luxembourg
- 2012 Taco-che, "Fente Asia”, Tokyo, Japan
- 2011 Märkisches Museum Witten, ,"das widerspenstige Fleisch" (Rudolf Schlichter), Witten, Germany
- 2010 Villa Merkel/Bahnwarterhaus, "Family Jewels", ,Esslingen, Germany
- 2010 Aeroplastics contemporary,"Alchemy of Delusion”, Brussels, Belgium
- 2009 The Horse Hospital, "The Impossible World of Stu Mead”, London, England
- 2009 loop – raum für aktuelle kunst,"Öffentliche Erregung", Berlin, Germany
- 2008 Bongout Gallery, "Mollusk Kollektiv", Berlin
- 2006 Institut de Cultura La Capella, "BerlinTendenzen", Barcelona, Spain
- 2005 Vanilla Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
- 2004 Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien, "When Love Turns to Poison", Berlin, Germany
- 2003 endart, “Stu Mead”, Berlin, Germany
- 2003 Un Regard Moderne, “Stu Mead”, Paris, France
- 2003 Emily Tsingou Gallery,"Please Don't Make Me Cry", Curated by Georgina Starr, London, England
- 2003 Track 16 Gallery,"Le Dernier Cri: Legendary Publishers of the International Underground", Los Angeles, California, USA
- 1999 Kiehle Gallery, St. Cloud State University, “Stu Mead”, St. Cloud, Minnesota, USA
- The Immortal MAN BAG Journal of Art (with Frank Gaard), Le Dernier Cri, 1999
- Miniput, Le Dernier Cri, 2003
- Devil's Milk, Le Dernier Cri, 2005
- Krampussy, Le Dernier Cri, 2008
- Private Zone, Timeless, 2009
- Men beg (with Frank Gaard), Le Dernier Cri, 2011
- Fentasia, Le Dernier Cri, 2012
- "The Late Great Aesthetic Taboos". http://www.stumead.com/index.php/barakat.html.
- "Stephen Lemons, “Apocalypse culture vulture”". http://www.salon.com/2000/09/20/parfrey/.
- "When Love Turns to Poison". http://news.gestalten.com/news/when-love-turns-poison.
- "Frank Gaard,When Love Turns to Poison". http://frankgaard.com/blog/when-love-turns-poison-or-when-being-becomes-ego.
- "Doug Harvey, “Juxtapalooza”". http://www.laweekly.com/2008-09-11/art-books/juxtapalooza/.
- "Öffentliche Erregung, 2012". http://www.loop-raum.de/index.php?id=226,0,0,1,0,0.
- "Conny Becker, FAMILY JEWELS". http://artnews.org/connybecker/?t=6622&g_a=overview.
- Official website
- NO! Art memo about Stu Mead
- Apocalypse Culture II uncensored
- 1997 interview with Steven Cerio originally published in Seconds magazine