Psychedelic Concert Posters

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You’ve probably already noticed the threads of psychedelia weaving through this website. From the Trip Advisor Feature, to the Courtenay Pollock interview, there are definitely some cosmic subjects to sink your brain into. In case you’re worried, don’t be. I’m not on a peyote binge in New Mexico. I’ve just been bunkered down and working these past couple weeks with only some mellow music playing and a few old artifacts on the wall to serve as temporary distractions. Today I’m focusing on some classic poster art from 1966 – 1971 that were created to announce concerts at San Francisco venues such as the Fillmore West, Winterland, and Avalon Ballroom, as well as the Fillmore East in New York City.

These posters were all created at a time when psychedelic LSD – fueled Rock music was taking off in San Francisco through bands such as the Grateful Dead, Santana, Big Brother & The Holding Company and Jefferson Airplane. Bill Graham was the top promoter in San Francisco and by 1968 opened a venue in New York’s East Village and named it the Fillmore East. On any given night you could have witnessed some of the most legendary rock and jazz concerts ever played. All-time greats like Muddy Waters, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis and The Allman Brothers Band have played the Fillmore and several of those performances have been released as live concert albums.

These concerts in the late 1960’s needed to be promoted locally and the primary method used was the style of poster featured here. These posters were put up in a wide variety of places bohemians and freaks were known to congregate such as coffee, record and head shops. Since these concerts were the best place in town to open your mind’s eye and doors of perception through a combination of sound and light, these posters were intended to portray that message. I’m pretty sure many of these artists were tripping balls themselves when they created this artwork, so it all goes together very well.

The artists showcased here include Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffin, Wes Wilson, Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelley. Many musical and visual artists of the 1960’s studied art and philosophy and you can see the influence of many turn-of-the-century European artists in this work. Many of the styles with their dense, busy formatting and use of letting can be seen in works by Jan Toorup, AM Cassandre, Alphonse Mucha, Gustav Klimt and Henry Van de Velde.

Concert poster art is still alive today thanks to limited edition prints offered by bands such as Phish, Ween and Furthur. In a noteworthy crossover fact, Kanye West has recently collaborated with two artists who’ve created work for Phish and the Grateful Dead; George Condo and Wes Lang.

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