Alton Kelley, 1940-2008

alton kelley

Alton Kelley, one of the pioneers of the SF psychedelic graphic arts movement, has died. Kelley and his longtime collaborator Stanley Mouse helped to fashion a style that featured bold colors, play with figure-ground, allusions to art nouveau, and wildly subversive typography. Psychedelic artists like Kelley were forerunners of the more grunge-oriented illegibility movement in graphic design of the end of the twentieth century.

But, as in this poster for a tribute to Chet Helms — despite its brash colors — Kelley at times showed a tendency to restraint and even classical balance in composition. He was one of the people who defined an era in the city, and I’m sorry to see him go.

.