Mark Ryden (American, b. January 20, 1963) is a well-known painter and illustrator who is affiliated with the Pop Surrealist movement. Born in Medford, OR, he is the son of Barbara and Keith Ryden, and he first made his living as a commercial artist from 1988 until 1998. During this time, Ryden designed a plethora of album covers for musical artists, including Aerosmith's "Love in an Elevator" and Michael Jackson's "Dangerous." His first solo show came out the same year in Pasadena, CA, and it was dubbed The Meat Show, because meat was used as a reoccurring theme in many of his works. At the end of his commercial artistic career, Ryden’s designs were used in Juxtapoz magazine, at the request of fellow artist Robert Williams (American, b.1943). The magazine was dedicated to "lowbrow art."

One reason Ryden's work garnered attention was that he chose to focus on subject matter that was rich with cultural connotation. He received his BFA from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, in 1987, and has since been featured in galleries and museums worldwide. His retrospective Wondertoonel was featured at the Frye Museum of Art in Seattle, WA, and at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, breaking attendance records at both galleries. The Tree Show opened in 2007 at the Michael Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles, CA, which displayed images of people and nature. One such painting, The Tree of Life, depicted a child-like princess atop a tree, with an eye wedged into the bark, and a skull resting at the base. It was included in an exhibit at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, CA, which showcased local artists who made an impact in the period since MOCA was founded in 1979.

Ryden was eventually named the "godfather of Pop Surrealism" by Interview Magazine, and continues to derive inspiration from mysterious elements, including skeletons, old toys, and religious paraphernalia. He married his longtime sweetheart in 2009, and has raised two children. Ryden currently lives in Eagle Rock, CA.

Timeline

1963
Born in Medford, OR
1987
BFA, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA

Exhibitions

2009
Pictopia—Festival of New Character Worlds, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany
2009
Snow Yak, Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo, Japan (solo)
2008
Prints from the Cal State Fullerton University Collection II, Cal State Fullerton Main Art Gallery, Fullerton, CA
2007
Charity by Numbers, Corey Helford Gallery, Culver City, CA
2007
The Tree Show, Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (solo)
2007
El Rei de la casa, Institut de Cultura de Barcelona, Palau de la Virreina, Barcelona, Spain
2006
Drawn to Expression, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA
2005
Au Pays de Merveilles, Galerie Magda Danysz, Paris, France
2005
Wondertoonel, Pasadena Museum of California Art, Pasadena, CA
2004
Wondertoonel, Frye Art Museum, Seattle, WA
2004
Innocence Found, DFN Gallery, New York, NY
2004
100 Artists See Satan, Grand Central Art Center, Santa Ana, CA
2004
Age of Aquarius, Copro-Nason Gallery, Culver City, CA
2004
Modern Love, M Modern Gallery, Palm Springs, CA
2004
From Your Valentine, Copro-Nason Gallery, Culver City, CA
2004
Juxtapoz 10th Anniversary Group Show, 111 Minna Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2003
Dark Fairytales, Roq La Rue Gallery, Seattle, WA
2003
Group Show, La Luz De Jesus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2003
Raising the Brow, Earl McGrath Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2003
Blood, Earl McGrath Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2003
Insalta Mista, Mondo Bizzarro Gallery, Bologna, Italy
2002
Bunnies and Bees, Grand Central Art Center, Santa Ana, CA
2002
Von Dutch an American Original, Northridge Art Galleries, Northridge, CA
2002
Hello, PressPop Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
2002
Gods and Monsters, Roq La Rue Gallery, Seattle, WA
2002
Group Show, La Luz De Jesus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2002
Draw, Roq La Rue Gallery, Seattle, WA
2001
Representing LA, Pictorial Currents in Southern CA Arts, Frye Art Museum, Seattle, WA
2001
Representing LA, Pictorial Currents in Southern CA Arts, Laguna Art Museum, Laguna, CA
2001
Group Show, La Luz De Jesus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2001
Bunnies and Bees, Earl McGrath Gallery, New York, NY
2001
Amalgamation, Outre Gallery, Melbourne, Australia
2000
Margaret Keane and Keaneabilia, Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CA
2000
Luck of the Draw, La Luz de Jesus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2000
Invitational III, La Luz de Jesus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2000
Up From the Underground, Hollywood Arts & Culture Center, Hollywood, FL
1999
Group Show, Copro-Nason Gallery, Culver City, CA
1999
Six Forms of Love and Despair, Merry Karnowsky Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1999
Tiki Group Show, Huntington Beach Arts Center, Huntington Beach, CA
1999
Invitational II, La Luz de Jesus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1998
Kittens’n’Kads, Merry Karnowsky Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1998
Custom II, Acme Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1998
No Red Ribbons, Julie Rico Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
1998
Tribute to La Luz de Jesus, Track 16 Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1998
Group Show, La Luz de Jesus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1998
The Meat Show, Mendenhall Gallery, Pasadena, CA
1997
Calivera Kustom, Merry Karnowsky Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1996
21st Century Tiki, La Luz de Jesus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1994
Side Show, Tamara Bane Gallery, Los Angeles, CA