Ralph Steadman: Unreal perspective on the world

Growing up, my parents were huge advocates for the eccentric artist Ralph Steadman. My favorite collection has always been his1973 illustrations of the classic story, Alice in Wonderland.

I guess I’m one of those kids who is ‘drawn to the strange and unusual’ and these paintings struck a note with me. My love for Steadman has steadily grown since I have been in collage, especially the day I met a young woman who had a tattoo of another one of Steadman’s renowned works on her back shoulder. She wound up be becoming one of my best friends and my great-grandbig in my sorority family. For all of you Jurassic Park fans, she also has a huge T-rex tattoo on her thigh (obviously my second favorite).

I wondered what kind of work Steadman put out in the eighties. The piece above was an illustration for the novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson. It was originally published in two parts in Rolling Stone magazine in 1971, and later made into a book.

The eighties was a strange time for EVERYONE, especially Steadman. I discovered two collections Steadman put out in the eighties that are very strange and thought provoking.

Ralph discovered a new way to manipulate polaroids while on vacation in Turkey during the hot summer of 1980. He began distorting and remolding the faces of the rich and famous.

These polaroids are so visually striking and eerie. The distorted image of Marilyn Monroe represents Steadman’s commentary on conventional icons of beauty. And Nixon literally looks like something that has crawled out of hell. His collection has been celebrated for its satiric style, much like caricatures/political cartoons.

My second favorite collection Steadman released in the 80’s is his 1989 collection called, HUMANITARIAN.

Ralph has always been a humanitarian at heart and his concerned for the welfare of the world is embraced in this collection.

“His continual inspiration has always been the desire to change the world, his continual disappointment is that he has not changed it enough. Steadman makes us face the worst in ourselves in this collection.” – comments on HUMANITARIAN

He has donated countless images to charity and provided the art for many campaigns including Save the Children, The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture and the Campaign which eventually led to the freedom of the hostage John McCarthy.

 “It makes me so desperately sad to witness just how unforgivably wretched our world has become.” – Ralph Steadman

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