Born in Houston, Texas in 1953, the printmaker and painter continues to live and work there, still remaining an integral part of the lively Houston art scene while garnering attention throughout the United States, as well as overseas. Allison's prints are included in major museum and private collections throughout the world, including the U.S., Europe and Asia. He has gained renown for his innovative painting with the surface subtleties of printmaking and has established an international reputation for printmaking that places him in league with some of the most important late 20th century artists to have worked in the print medium.
Achieving worldwide critical acclaim for his printmaking, Allison was the recipient of the prestigious 1987 Grand Prix award for the 17th Biennial of Graphic Art sponsored by the Ljubljana Museum of Modern Art in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. The artist's award winning, three panel collagraphic triptych, "Between Heaven and Earth," was selected from more than 1800 entries submitted from 57 countries. Past recipients of Ljubljana print award honors include Joan Miro, Karl Appel, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, James Rosenquist, David Hockney, Victor Vasarely, Antonio Berni, Antoni Tapies, R. B. Kitaj, Sol Lewitt, Joe Tilson, Edward Ruscha, David Salle, Susan Rothenberg, A.R. Penck, Mimmo Paladino and John Baldessari. In September, 1998, a major retrospective of Allison's prints, paintings and mixed media work was mounted by the newly opened Modern Museum of Viejo in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
Allison first made his mark on the art world in the late 1970's with his instantly recognizable aquatint etchings, created through a revolutionary, one-plate, three-color printmaking process the artist pioneered and refined while attending Sam Houston University in Huntsville, Texas. The artist earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis on printmaking from the university in 1978.
Allison's early, largely autobiographical etchings were notable for their cartoon-like style and exuberant, luminous hues, demonstrating a depth, intensity and clarity of color never before accomplished using traditional aquatint processes. Many of these works displayed an unabashed romanticism, sardonically grappling with the artist's often tumultuous interpersonal relationships with wry humor. Technically demanding, etching editions for this early work were small, numbering between 5 and 65.
Heavily influenced by religious and regional iconography of Mexico and South Texas, as well as the dreamlike surrealism of French painter and printmaker Marc Chagall, Allison's complex, yet easily accessible, etchings began to evolve dramatically in the late 1980's and early 1990's. It was during this period the noted printmaker left behind highly saturated color, naïve style and personal subject matter, exploring more spiritual, less subjective themes in large-scale, heavily textured collagraphs executed in a somber, highly restrained palette reflective of worldly, globally-connected concerns. Using masonite as a base plate, Allison developed his imagery -- much of which made reference to iconography appropriated from mass media, current events and literary sources -- by building up the plate surface with an assortment of unconventional materials: glue, carborundum, sandpaper, varnishes, lacquer, metal filings, fabric, chewing tobacco and sawdust. Because of the inherent fragility of Allison's collagraphic plates, many of the images pulled from them are limited to very small editions.
Most recently, Dan Mitchell Allison has harnessed technology for printmaking purposes, using imagery created from three-dimensional, computer-scanned objects and assemblages as subject matter, which continues to be intimately linked to the artist's concern with serious universal themes. These concerns have been honed by Allison's experiences with artist relief work in war-torn Sarajevo in 1994 on behalf of the Houston-based Artist Rescue Mission.