Ralph Steadman Retrospective at Society of Illustrators

Lynn’s a natural-born planner, and I’m, shall we say, a little more “fluid” in my approach to life. She writes ruler-straight notations with breathtakingly symmetrical penmanship in composition notebooks and prolifically schedules our digital calendar with placeholders for upcoming events. I plan what I’m wearing 10 minutes before we head out for the day and am never more happy than when a pedestrian evening in the city takes a serendipitous left turn and we end up at strange locales we never would have considered in advance. After many, many years of marriage, I like to think that we balance each other out. She has opened my eyes to the fact that a little structure often leads to more frequent and more meaningful experiences, and I remind her that spontaneity in life is an important counterbalance to the weariness and monotony of everyday existence.

Recently, a bit of chance and calculation collided in our visit to Society of Illustrators where we ventured to take in A Retrospective: Ralph Steadman. In typical fashion, Lynn sent me a link to an article about the exhibit a few weeks beforehand and asked, “Interested?” I afforded the article a two-second, cursory examination and replied, “Sure. Why not?” I knew, of course, exactly who Ralph Steadman was, though, admittedly, more by his work and the company he kept than his name.

Ralph Steadman Society of Illustators - Mad Hatters NYC

Ralph Steadman Society of Illustators - Mad Hatters NYC

Bill Murray as Hunter S. Thompson in the 1980 movie Where the Buffalo Roam

Ralph Steadman Society of Illustators - Mad Hatters NYC
An illustration for George Orwell’s Animal Farm completed in 1995

Over the course of his award-winning 50-year career, British artist Ralph Steadman has produced innumerable iconic illustrations in his signature bold, brutal, linear style. His early work showed up in such magazines as Punch and Private Eye. But a chance encounter with journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson allowed his crow quill fountain pen to usher in the first images of the Gonzo Journalism movement. Gonzo Journalism was simply journalism written without claims of objectivity, which has continued through today, for better or worse. The partnership led to life-changing collaborations including that on Thompson’s seminal work Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream which is based on Thompson and lawyer and Chicano activist Oscar Zeta Acosta (they were played by Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro respectively in the movie).  

Ralph Steadman Society of Illustators - Mad Hatters NYC

Ralph Steadman Society of Illustators - Mad Hatters NYC

There are innumerable pop culture, historical and political events captured in the exhibit. Now, imagine our delight when we discovered, also in the exhibit, that one of the many accolades Ralph Steadman received was the Francis Williams Book Illustration Award for his work on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland — from which we’ve clearly drawn inspiration for our blog — as well as those from a much acclaimed edition of Through The Looking Glass. It’s the kind of find that embodies what a little bit of planning, while still leaving something to be discovered, can yield.

The exhibit is expansive, covering four floors, and offers an impressive array of merchandise (I’m sure you’ll see me wearing one of the t-shirts in a later post). It’s an incredible exhibit. Best not miss it. A Retrospective: Ralph Steadman runs through October 22.

128 East 63rd St

Tue, Thu 10 am to 8 pm
Wed, Fri 10 am to 5 pm
Sat 11 am to 4 pm

Pair it with:

Something sweet at Sprinkles Cupcakes

Sprinkles Cupcakes - Mad Hatters NYC

Sprinkles Cupcakes - Mad Hatters NYC

Sprinkles Cupcakes - Mad Hatters NYC

The cupcake craze began in the 1990s but really took off with a quiet moment in which Carrie Bradshaw confessed to Miranda Hobbes that she had a new crush while they sat eating cupcakes on a bench outside of the original West Village location of Magnolia Bakery. Magnolia’s instant fame — which, by the way, is still a stop on the Sex and the City Tour — ushered in myriad other cupcake bakeries: the designer cupcakes of DC’s Georgetown Cupcakes, the miniatures of Baked by Melissa, the over-the-top cupcakes of Crumbs, and the sophisticated cupcakes of Beverly Hills-based Sprinkles. The Sprinkles location on Lexington offers a cupcake store, an ice cream and cookie parlor, and most importantly, a Cupcake ATM.  The Cupcake ATM is equally reviled and loved (read: Instagrammable), but the novelty cannot be beat. Sure, Sprinkles offers many of the same aesthetics as their competitors — quality ingredients, beautiful presentation, and imaginative flavors — but it’s their subtlety and simplicity that have won us over. We’re particularly fond of the dark chocolate cupcakes.   

780 Lexington Ave

Mon – Sat 9 am to 9 pm
Sun 10 am to 8 pm

– J.


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Looks like a very comprehensive show – and I’m with you, start with a plan, then deviate, deviate, deviate…
As for the cupcakes, I confess I’m partial to less icing than what has evolved over the years – the original Magnolia cupcakes, it seems to me, had a little less…but them I used to go for the slices anyway…chocolate cake with vanilla icing, yum.
p.s. you guys really do a professional job, from the writing to the photos and layout. But I hate having to type in my info and do the captcha every time! 😉