May 6, 2011

Masters of Psychedelic Art 65-74

Filed under: Blog — Gary Panter @ 1:20 am

Opening Thursday May 12, 2011– Art from the early era of ZAP comics by Robert Crumb, Robert Williams, S Clay Wilson, Gilbert Shelton, Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffin and Spain Rodriguez, mainly from the collection of Glenn Bray, co-curated by Gary Panter and Chris Byrne.

ZAP:Masters of Psychedelic Art at Andrew Edlin Gallery  134 10th Avenue in Chelsea.

The accompanying cover of ZAP comix number one which appeared in microscopic form as an item in the ELECTRIC LAST MINUTE, the fold-out poster calendar that came free in every issue of EYE magazine back in the late  sixties, blew my mind. It was familiar and foreign– backward-looking AND forward-looking. The tiny cover, pictured, reminded me of old Popeye comics or of the Nutt Brothers, by Gene Ahearn, the last of the really old-timey looking comics in the newspaper. It was a year or so before I got my hands on a ZAP, which by the way is a trademarked logo and the rights are shared by the aforementioned ZAP group of artists, and I wasn’t disappointed. There was a high level of skill, experimentation and a rabid interest in pushing the limits of allowed content and social critique. Some of the artists I had seen before: Rick Griffin’s work had appeared in surf mags; I looked forward to Robert William’s complex and disturbing, hence exciting, ads for Ed Roth monster shirts in various hot rod mags; Wonder Wart Hog I had seen in hot rod cartoons magazines and in his own short lived magazine; plus, I had been magnetically drawn to the funny greeting card racks in drug stores by the commercial illustrations of Robert Crumb. Something amazing had happened! A bunch of edgy cartoonists that I was already watching had grown their hair out, formed an experimental drawing club, teamed up with more insane drawers and moved to San Francisco to be hippie cartoonists and poster artists. WOW! That premise was exciting enough, but when I finally got my hands on an issue of ZAP I was ecstatically pleased to see that the drawing was of such a high, controlled, inventive, diverse order and that the disparate approaches, experiments and stylizations were somehow successfully fused into soupy collaborative drawings, just… well, it was a lot to consider. Glenn Bray is going to be in town and we can all thank him for sharing this amazing collection of psychedelic drawings with us.

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  1. So Squinky!

    Comment by KittraKittra — May 6, 2011 @ 10:03 am

  2. I learned to HATE the artworld, and all it’s insipid fake posturing for the “commodity spectacle”..Just to make the art you love is the thing..Like the Sufi Moslem Poet Rumi said, “With all of this wine, why would one rush out to create ECONOMICS???”.. (Though, art receptions are great for scoring free vino)..ZAP Comix had a huge influence on me, both good and bad (great job , guys!!), Crumb of course being the Hieronymous King, but S. Clay Wilson tearing a new asshole in the American Psyche , as well, Moscoso’s re-mending of space, Fat Freddy’s Cat Forever, etc…I hear you’re libertarianism in the RozzTox Manifesto, but this new capitalism is actually a form of fascism rammed down America’s throat by the Perpetrators Of 9-11..Artists like the irreverent ZAP cartoonists are to be rounded up or ZAPPED out of existence (how DARE they influence Vietnam) in the next false-flag attack, black-hearted insanity seems the most honest expression too often (like Doomsday Graphics and Rudimentary Peni-great artists)…

    Anyway, a raised glass to all the ZAP cartoonists and their “Eternal Recurrence” (Nietzche)..Peace

    Comment by Raph — May 7, 2011 @ 6:15 pm

  3. Well. i am not going to defend the art world, except to say that there is good stuff hidden amongst the fetid: Bearden, Saul, Fahlstrom, Yokoo, Wesley, Nutt, Wirsum, Kusama etc.

    Comment by Gary Panter — May 20, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

  4. Thanks for sharing your personal response to seeing these great artists & Zap for the first time. I wish I could be there to see the exhibit.

    Thanks again.

    Comment by Mark Gilmore — May 7, 2011 @ 10:04 pm

  5. If you were a modern Zap/Raw/Weirdo artist, where would you get your work published??

    Comment by Raph — May 8, 2011 @ 11:11 am

  6. Some place for free like I did the first time around. Also, I would be looking for some place that my style of work would fit in.

    Comment by Gary Panter — May 20, 2011 @ 1:47 pm

  7. Glad to see S. Clay is conscious and getting his motor skills back, I’ve been beaten unconscious and left for dead a coupla times by gangs (why Jimbo is so good, it’s based on reality)..It ain’t easy for drunk cartoonists sometimes..

    Comment by Raph — May 8, 2011 @ 11:05 pm

  8. Mister Panter,
    I am sorry to put a personnal message here, but I didn’t find any email adress on your site. I have order you a Custom drawing with the text ACHTUNG! CHEESY SERENDIPITY. Since then, I haven’t received a confirmation of my order… (except from my credit card). I hope everythings will be allright. This Custom drawing thing is really fck’n great, so I wanted to thank you an other way that just giving you the money: so if you agree JUST WRITE ME BACK “one-to-three keywords” AND I WILL SEND YOU A DRAWING (a paper work if you are ok to give a “real” adress), it will be an honnor. Thank you

    Comment by Denis Martin — May 20, 2011 @ 2:02 am

  9. Hi Denis, I have just finished your drawing. Yes, sorry I am slow and not as precise as I would like with my orders, though I have sent thousands of packages by now. I do it by myself, packing, posting etc. and am very distracted by art projects and life demands. I think that your drawing turned out neat. I hope you think so. I will mail it soon. Please let me know if you get it and like it. It will still be a week or so until you receive it. Thanks so much for your patience and patronage.

    Comment by Gary Panter — May 20, 2011 @ 8:02 am

  10. thank you Gary Panter, I’m pretty sure that I’m gonna like your drawing. It took me years to understand and appreciate your work, when Crumb, Ware, Brinkman, Blanquet or Bell embrace me in a sec. You are in the heavy chamber, your roomates are Schultz, Bellmer, Guston, Cranach and Grünewald for the older… Thanks again (and again, it will be a great pleasure to turn your deal back by sending you a custom drawing with word that you choose…)

    Comment by Denis Martin — May 20, 2011 @ 12:58 pm

  11. Wonderful company you put me in. Your drawing is a lot sillier than Cranach or Bellmer!!!

    Comment by Gary Panter — May 20, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

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