Tag Archives | Ralph Steadman

How Hunter S. Thompson and Psilocybin Influenced the Art of Ralph Steadman

ralph-steadman-fear-and-loathing-in-las-vegas-by-hunter-s-thompsonOpen Culture revisits the influence of Hunter S. Thompson on the art of Ralph Steadman.

Via Open Cuture.

Though the two men only occasionally collaborated over their long friendship, the work of Kentucky-born “gonzo” journalist Hunter S. Thompson and that of British illustrator Ralph Steadman enjoy a cultural symbiosis: Thompson’s style of writing puts you in the mind of Steadman’s style of drawing, and vice versa even more so. At this point, I have a hard time imagining any suitable visual accompaniment to the simultaneously clear- and wild-eyed sensibility of Thompsonian prose — “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone,” he famously said, “but they’ve always worked for me” — other than the bold strokes and violent blotches with which Steadman renders visions of highly controlled madness. The clip above, from Alex Gibney’s documentary Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, explores the origins of their aesthetic and psychological partnership.

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William S. Burroughs: Paint it Blacker

As many readers of these here illuminated letters surely know, the great author/Beat ghost/junky/exterminator William S. Burroughs also added the title of “painter” to his resume before his death in 1997. He began painting in his later years while living in Lawrence Kansas, but his relationship with painting and painters began much earlier.

I like to trace Burroughs’ origins as a painter back to his 1959 meeting with Brion Gysin. Gysin was also a polymath and his written work is as underrated as his paintings were during his lifetime. Gysin died in 1986 and while his sometimes-stunning prose has yet to be reconsidered, the publication of a few great books and the organizing of gallery retrospectives have seen his visual art getting the respect it deserves all these years later. Of course, Burroughs was way ahead of the curve: “I don’t think I’d seen painting until I saw the painting of Brion Gysin,” he once snarled.… Read the rest

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