Steadman, Ralph
"BATS OVER BARSTOW"
Estimate
7,00010,000
LOT SOLD. 11,250 USD (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)
JUMP TO LOT
Steadman, Ralph
"BATS OVER BARSTOW"
Estimate
7,00010,000
LOT SOLD. 11,250 USD (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

The Maurice Neville Collection of Modern Literature (Part III)

|
New York

Steadman, Ralph
"BATS OVER BARSTOW"
Silkscreen (39 ½ x 26 in; 1005x 660 mm). Numbered 68/77 and signed "Ralph Steadman" on lower right in pencil. In very good condition.
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Catalogue Note

“WE WERE SOMEWHERE AROUND THE BARSTOW WHEN THE DRUGS BEGAN TO TAKE HOLD,” Thompson’s notorious opening lines for his novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream, is captured by Steadman’s iconic print. Used as the illustration for the dust-jacket of the first edition, the scene depicted is meant to immediately introduce the reader into the novel’s energetic autobiographical rhetoric: a style Thompson later became famous for called gonzo journalism. As suggested by Steadman’s image, Thompson’s novel chronicles the story of Raoul Duke and his attorney, Dr. Gonzo, as they embark on a drug-induced journey to Las Vegas in an effort to actualize the American Dream while meditating on the 1960s countercultural movement. The novel is loosely based on two trips that Thompson took with his attorney, Oscar Zeta, in 1971 to investigate the murder of Ruben Salazaar during the National Chicano Moratorium March against the Vietnam War for a Rolling Stones article.

Steadman purposefully renders the scene in a surrealist aesthetic as an attempt to disorient the viewer in the same way that Thompson’s narrative misguides the reader into never knowing whether Raoul is relaying fact or fiction due to his perpetual abuse of drugs such as LSD, cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol--many of which lead the two to destroy hotel rooms or crash cars during hallucinogenic episodes. Steadman achieves this by representing the protagonists as versions of their of own anthropomorphic hallucinations, including bat-like monsters against a light-blue sky, playing with scale by making the objects in the background as large as the figures in front, and finally, inundating the scene with circles that compete against the “moon” shown directly below a presumably day time sky.

Although Steadman is widely known as the recipient of the Francis Williams Memorial Award for his illustrated version of Alice in Wonderland, Steadman’s numerous collaborations with Thompson has fostered his now celebrated career as a satirical artistic. In addition to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Steadman illustrated many articles for Thompson, including accompanying him to cover an article of the Kentucky Derby in 1970 and the Honolulu Marathon in 1980, much like Raoul and Dr. Gonzo’s coverage of the Mint 400 motorcycle race for an anonymous magazine.

The Maurice Neville Collection of Modern Literature (Part III)

|
New York