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Poster - Bill Graham Presents

Bill Graham Presents

  • Object:

    Poster

  • Place of origin:

    San Francisco (designed)

  • Date:

    1966 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Wilson, Wes, born 1937 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Lithography on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

  • Museum number:

    S.790-2010

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The Fillmore in San Francisco is a historic music venue, named after its original location at the intersection of Fillmore Street and Geary Boulevard. Known as the Fillmore Auditorium in the mid-1960s, concert promoter Bill Graham began a series of concerts featuring bands from the counterculture of the time. In 1968, due to his spiralling success, he moved to a larger venue which he named Fillmore West. Having closed in 1971, and after extensive repair work to fix earthquake damage, Graham's was revived when Live Nation reopened the original Fillmore venue in 1994.

San Francisco in the mid-1960s was the hub of the LSD and Hippie scene and the cultural and political rebellion of 1967's Summer of Love. The resulting influence of these factors on the artists of the area created the fantastic psychedelic posters of the Fillmore. Art dealer Jacaeber Kastor said of the posters, "They couldn't just tell you the information about the show. They had to tell you what kind of people you might meet, what kind of far out trip you might have or perhaps even reveal the mysteries of the universe. Wow. Quantum mechanics, visual mudwrestling, Acid test pop quiz on a phone pole!"

The artist of this poster, Wes Wilson, was a designer in the San Francisco small press company Contact, creating posters for Bill Graham's Fillmore and rival promoter Chet Helms' Avalon Ballroom. He stopped working for Helms in August 1966, as he received more artistic freedom from Graham. He adapted his lettering style from an Art Nouveau and Expressionism exhibition, expanding the outlines and shapes exaggeratedly, creating intense patterns for the backgrounds. He used vibrant and contrasting colours, which, combined with the patterns, often made the text almost indecipherable. His choice of colours was to reflect the nature of the stimulating light shows that accompanied the concerts.

This gig at the Fillmore Auditorium featured Butterfield Blues Band, who had previously performed with Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, during the infamous concert where he was backed by electric guitar for the first time. Jefferson Airplane co-headlined, a seminal psychedelic band whose 1967 album Surrealistic Pillow is considered one of the key recordings of the Summer of Love. Also on the bill was Big Mama Mae Thornton, a singer and songwriter who had big hits with Hound Dog and Ball and Chain in the 1950s, which were later performed to even greater success by Elvis Presley and Janis Joplin respectively.

Physical description

Poster advertising Butterfield Blues Band, Jefferson Airplane, and Big Mama Mae Thornton at the Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, 7th and 8th October 1966. Beige background with brown pattern and photograph of Big Mama Mae Thornton and gold text. BG31.

Place of Origin

San Francisco (designed)

Date

1966 (designed)

Artist/maker

Wilson, Wes, born 1937 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Lithography on paper

Dimensions

Height: 59.8 cm, Width: 35.3 cm

Object history note

Transferred as part of a collection from the Cooper Hewitt Museum, New York, in 1985.

Descriptive line

Poster advertising Butterfield Blues Band, Jefferson Airplane, and Big Mama Mae Thornton at the Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, 7th and 8th October 1966. BG31.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Lemke, Gayle The Art of the Fillmore 1966-71, Thunder's Mouth Press, New York, 1999
Poster Collecting. Fillmore Poster. 06 August 2010.

Subjects depicted

Psychedelia

Categories

Entertainment & Leisure; Advertising

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

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