It was an odd process, and I want to begin this series of posts about the book by talking a bit about what bits didn’t make it into the book as a way if illuminating what did.
A few of the book’s artists were surprisingly amenable, willingly providing interviews and images, while others required 3-1/2 years worth of pleading/whining before acquiescing. Of course the task of hunter-gathering artwork that was 40-50 years old and not always in the possession of the artist didn’t make it any simpler. The images used in the few books published on the subject seem to have relied on dodgy copies from poorly printed originals or copied transparencies, and I was determined to portray the work in the most accurate way possible.
The further we waded into our initial stages of research it began to dawn on me that the subject of psychedelic art didn’t seem to have a serious book devoted to the subject. That proved to put even more of an onus on the project to ensure our book got it right. After spending a few months looking at various artists we made a shortlist and began to try and track these people down. Dan was keen to include the Bay Area poster publisher East Totem West but I felt they would be better suited to the introductory overview section that was initially conceived to be much larger than what we ended up with for the final book.
I was hot on Victor Moscoso even though Dan protested that he had already been well documented in other publications. I felt he’d never been treated in the proper way but by then our roster had begun to take shape and I began to see that he didn’t fit so well within it. When most people think of psychedelic art they immediately think ‘Filmore Posters’ of the type made famous the world over by Moscoso and Wes Wilson.
I was keen to set the historical record a bit straight by focusing on artists that were hugely influential to others but perhaps hadn’t received the proper recognition or were only known within their own countries. Psychedelic imagery blossomed on a global and multi-media scale and I was hoping the book could communicate that, along with showing that it was prevalent in areas outside of simply promoting rock concerts.
Sadly we were unable to agree terms with the late great Michael English whose work I felt, clearly illustrated the progression from Pop to Psychedelia.
And our attempts to reframe the work of Peter Max never came to fruition despite Dan’s valiant attempts (anyone want to buy an old Peter Max Manhattan Yellow Pages?).
Our final loss was the brilliant English illustrator Alan Aldridge. We were able to make contact and conducted a stonking interview with him in LA, but could never quite extract all the necessary images we required from him.
However, after suffering recurring calls from ace image researcher Angela Wyman to include a woman, and having given up after deciding there just weren’t any of merit - we started studying the Dutch art collective The Fool and subjected Dan to an intense bong walkabout in Amsterdam in order to interview former member Simon Posthuma. We then started to focus on their primary image-maker Marijke Koger. I’d drawn a blank in trying to track down her whereabouts, but Angela was finally able to find her and she readily agreed to be included.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be updating this blog with a bit more background on the book and some images that didn’t make the final cut. We’ll also be having two book events, one in Los Angeles at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA on April 22nd at 3pm which will include a visual presentation followed by me interviewing Marijke Koger. The other will be in New York at MoMA PS1 on April 29th from 4-6pm. I’ll be joined by the magnificent Dan Nadel along with psychedelic explorer Gary Panter. We will be showing some ultra rare film clips by the artists themselves, some never shown before, having a chat and displaying a few pieces of memoribilia used in the making of the book.
Please feel free to pitch in and post any questions you might have or to recommend subjects you’d like to see covered in future posts.