Monday, September 12, 2016

A Retrospective: Ralph Steadman

I attended the opening reception for "A Retrospective:  Ralph Steadman" at the Society of Illustrators on Friday evening. This is a traveling exhibition that started in London's Cartoon Museum. Ralph Steadman, 80, is a draftsman of prodigious skill seemingly able to draw anything. The event drew many luminaries from the world of illustration, cartooning and animation, although it did not bring out the artist himself, who instead had met with only elite members of the Society the day before.

Ralph Steadman, Self-Portrait, 2006
(HST is Hunter S. Thompson.)

Jud Bergeron and Ralph Steadman, Vintage Dr. Gonzo, bronze

Ralph Steadman, Donald Trump—Porky Pie!!
New Statesman,
December 17, 2015

Hunter S. Thompson and Donald J. Trump

Journey to Las Vegas from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:  A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream, 1971

Ralph Steadman, White Rabbit, from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, 1967

Ralph Steadman, The Landing from The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll, 1975

"Just the place for a Snark!" the Bellman cried.
As he landed his crew with care;      
Supporting each man on the top of the tide  
By a finger entwined in his hair.      

"Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What I tell you three times is true."   

Punch, March 17, 1965

Punch, March 17, 1965
Ralph Steadman, Reagan's Latest Close Up, March 1980

Ralph Steadman, Rats in the kitchen and the head pastrycook's drinking problem became a daily occurrence.
Ralph Steadman, Pallas's Cormorant, 2011

A Retrospective:  Ralph Steadman

September 25, 2016 Update:  In the comments section, a Society of Illustrators official mentions that I should have come to the Society's September 10 brunch if I wanted to meet the artist. I wish to point out that in no way did the Society of Illustrators promote this brunch to the public as an event in which one could meet the artist, although I believe insiders were privy to those details. The Society has many worthwhile events, but it can be a bit clubby.
Brunch and a gallery talk at the Society of Illustrators, Saturday, September 10, 2016

You can see that Ralph Steadman went out of his way to avoid the opening night riff-raff:
Jud Bergeron's Instagram photo of Ralph Steadman at the Society of Illustrators hours before the September 9 opening reception.

Note:  The exhibition "A Retrospective:  Ralph Steadman" is covered in a New York Post review by Barbara Hoffman.

I'm going to publish some scribblings by Ralph Steadman this week. If you have some of your own to contribute, please send them along.

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  1. If you had come to the brunch on Saturday you would have been amongst the "un-elite" that had the opportunity to not only meet Ralph but to watch him demonstrate his spatter technique. There are still remnants on the wall in the dining room. —Richard Berenson, Former President and Co-chair of the Permanent Collection at the Society of Illustrators.

    1. Sure, but the Society was very careful not to mention the artist's attendance on its web page promoting the brunch. In fact, the only mention of Mr. Steadman's active participation on your website is the Skype session from his studio. In this way, the Society allowed an exciting public event to be promoted primarily to insiders. At any rate, there was no false advertising regarding the opening reception, only an artist who came to town and chose to remain in absentia. I wonder if it is commonplace for an artist of Mr. Steadman's stature to cross the Atlantic for a new stop in a traveling exhibition and then sit out his own opening reception.