The Society of Illustrators is pleased to present ant major retrospective to celebrate the work and career of iconic artist Ralph Steadman. This special exhibition will cover three floors of galleries and is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for the public to view a collection of his groundbreaking pieces spanning his 50 year career.
Today, Steadman is revered by the illustration community as one of the most important and in influential illustrators of our time. His art has become recognizable and celebrated by fellow artists and authors, celebrities, and the general public.
Ralph Steadman’s colorful, satirical linear drawings first appeared in print during the 1960’s in such notable magazines as Punch and Private Eye. Around this time, he also began illustrating children’s books, and created the art for Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, which was honored as the winner of the Francis Williams Book Illustration Award in 1972. Five years later his even more striking edition of Through the Looking Glass also received high praise.
In 1969, history would be made when Steadman was partnered with journalist Hunter S. Thompson to cover the Kentucky Derby for Scanlan’s Weekly. Their collaboration continued with the definitive Rolling Stone article titled “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream”. Four of the originals from this iconic work have been kindly loaned by Jann Wenner, Rolling Stone Founder and Steadman’s friend and colleague, and will be featured as part of the exhibition.
Steadman’s trippy style and fluid drawings were the perfect fit for Thompson’s words. With this historic partnership, a new movement in journalism was born. Gonzo journalism, or reporting without claims of objectivity via a first-person narrative, became associated with Thompson’s writings. Steadman created the art to go with it, later covering such important events as the presidential campaign in 1972 and the Watergate hearings.
Steadman’s client list includes The Times, The New York Times, The New Statesman, Observer Magazine, Radio Times, and many more. During the 1970s he began work on a series of award-winning books. Sigmund Freud (Firefly Books); I, Leonardo; and The Big I Am (both Summit Books), were all written and illustrated by the artist. Steadman’s illustrations also appeared in commercial and advertising enterprises. During the 1980s and 1990s he circumnavigated the world on behalf of Oddbins Wine Merchants, and created a masterful collection of images used for Oddbins wine and whisky catalogues.
He also continued to illustrate children’s books including his series created with good friend Bernard Stone featuring the titles Emergency Mouse, Inspector Mouse, and Quasimodo Mouse (Turret Books). Other well-loved titles include No Room to Swing a Cat; Teddy, Where Are You? (both Anderson Pr Ltd books); Fly Away Peter; The Big Red Squirrel; and The Little Rhinoceros (Pavillion books), as well as the classics Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Treasure Island (Cupress Ltd) and recently Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (Graham Press).
In 2011, Steadman worked with lmmaker Ceri Levy for the conservationist show “Ghosts of Gone Birds”. He created hundreds of drawings of birds, which were later published in the book Extinct Boids (Bloomsbury). And in 2012, the documentary film by Charlie Paul, For No Good Reason, premiered. For over a decade, Paul captured Steadman at work, and included in the production conversations with good friend Johnny Depp.
Starting with sketches from his student days, this groundbreaking exhibition will feature pieces from the legendary illustrators entire career including originals from the Watergate Hearings, his trips with Oddbins wine merchants, political satire, illustrated literary classics such as Treasure Island and Alice in Wonderland, pieces from his children’s books such as No Room to Swing a Cat and Teddy Where Are You? and his masterful portrait of Walter White from the Cult TV hit, Breaking Bad. It will also include a work from his latest project with conservationist Ceri Levi, Critical Critters, due to be published Autumn 2017 by Bloomsbury.
An Opening Reception to the public will take place on Friday, September 9, 2016. A schedule of collaborative events and arts programming can be found on the link at the right.