The Posters of the Grateful Dead Archive

Victor Moscoso

Along with his friend and colleague Bob Fried, Victor Moscoso represents the mainstream art world’s accommodation of the burgeoning psychedelic art movement in San Francisco. Trained at Cooper’s Union and then Yale, where he studied under Joseph Albers, Moscoso moved to San Francisco in 1959, continuing his studies at the San Francisco Art Institute, where he became an instructor. When he saw Mouse and Kelley’s Zig Zag Man, he was impressed, and began creating posters shortly after. Moscoso is famous for saying that he had to reverse everything he learned in art school—then his ideas fit in beautifully with what was developing. But he also credits Albers for influencing his aesthetic, which derives its trademark intensity from optical effects he pioneered, merging intensely interacting colors and highly abstracted lettering.

Moscoso has superb draftsmanship skills, and he sketched and painted detailed studies of his poster designs before he went to press, but his controlled, precise images, such as the one he executed for FD 44, were sometimes criticized for their formalism in the midst of the wide-open psychedelic frontier. His Hippie Santa Claus, FD 40, answered those critics with a superbly executed cartoon figure of a hip Father Christmas, framed by an arch in a bold, simple, and effective design. Moscoso went on to paint beautiful covers for Garcia’s [Compliments of] Garcia (1974) and Run for the Roses (1982), and for Bob Weir’s Bobby and the Midnites (1981).

Images not displayed at artist's request.