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The Art of Rick Griffin Paperback – February 25, 2015
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Griffin perfected the late 60s San Fran poster art style in his work for the Dead and others (cover of Aoxomoxoa, for instance, or the immortal surfing eyeball poster for the GD with It's A Beautiful Day), and he was also a phenomenally gifted painter, spraybrush stylist, and pen and ink man. He takes the art deco influence of the SF school and melds it with a classicist's sensibility, creating a beautiful synthesis of mind and Mother Nature.
There is no doubt that Michelangelo or DaVinci would smile in appreciation at Rick's Omo Bob Rides South, a six-page black and white masterpiece where each page is an absolutely perfectly composed gem that stands on its own as a true work of art. He exhibits the total control of a master, and his eye for symmetry is astounding, as is the depth of his chiaroscuro. Griffin is also one of the great letterers of all time; it's a real joy to read words written in his inimitable script (but imitated ever since, including almost every decent graffiti artist).
To top it off, his writing is genius in Omo Bob, reflecting a deep understanding of life's many paradoxes. If you've never experienced this work, get good and ready in your favorite way (RG was an early fan of Dr. Hof, and that influence is clearly felt) and then spend at least ten minutes on each page, letting your eyes bathe in the serpentine brilliance; you will be endlessly rewarded. I still enjoy it at least once a year, decades after my first exposure to it (in the classic Zap comics), and never tire of its mellifluous lines and incredible detail.
The book also highlights some of his early surf work (a surfer through and through, Griffin's work embodies the grace and flow of a true waterman; no one has ever visually conveyed the joy of a wave like RG), his album covers, his paintings, and various pieces.
But it is Omo Bob and a couple other pen and ink pieces here that ensure his artistic immortality. Griffin was by all accounts a wonderful friend and a very spiritual man, and those qualities shine through in his art.
It is somehow very comforting and reassuring to gaze upon his work; there is proof here that a deep and perfect form lies beyond the seeming chaos of the physical plane.
What more can you ask from art than that?