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Poster - Bill Graham Presents

Bill Graham Presents

  • Object:


  • 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:


  • 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 Grateful Dead, an American rock band formed in 1965 in San Francisco. The band was known for its unique and eclectic style, fusing elements of rock, folk, psychedelia, and space rock and for live performances of long musical improvisation. The James Cotton Blues Band also played; famous for his harmonica playing, James Cotton's band mainly played their own arrangements of popular blues and R&B material from the 1950s & 60s, and toured with Janis Joplin.

Physical description

Poster advertising Grateful Dead, James Cotton Blues Band and Lothar and the Hand People performing 18-20 November 1966 at The Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco. Grey background with yellow text on the right-hand side and woman in black and white holding a yellow CND sign.

Place of Origin

San Francisco (designed)


1966 (designed)


Wilson, Wes, born 1937 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Lithography on paper


Height: 53.2 cm, Width: 34.1 cm

Object history note

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

Descriptive line

Poster advertising Grateful Dead, James Cotton Blues Band and Lothar and the Hand People performing 18-20 November 1966 at The Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco.

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



Entertainment & Leisure; Advertising


Theatre and Performance Collection

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