Bonnie MacLean in 2015
|Born||December 28, 1939|
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||February 4, 2020 (aged 80)|
Newtown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Bonnie MacLean (December 28, 1939 – February 4, 2020), also known as Bonnie MacLean Graham, was an American artist known for her classic rock posters. In the 1960s and 1970s she created posters and other art for the promotion of rock and roll concerts managed by Bill Graham, using the iconic psychedelic art style of the day. MacLean continued her art as a painter focusing mostly on nudes, still lifes, and landscapes. Her work has been placed alongside the "big five"—male Haight-Ashbury poster artists who were seminal to the "iconography of the counterculture scene."
She graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 1961 with a degree in French. She moved to New York after graduating college, where she worked at the Pratt Institute and took drawing classes in the evenings. MacLean moved to San Francisco in 1963, where she met Bill Graham who had been her boss at her office job at Allis-Chalmers.
Artist Wes Wilson was the main poster artist for The Fillmore when he and Bill Graham had a "falling out" and Wilson quit. MacLean had been painting noticeboards at the auditorium in the psychedelic style, and took up the creation of the posters after Wilson left, creating more than thirty posters, most in 1967. Some of her posters have been sold for $10,000, and are highly valued in the collectors' market.
Using 14 by 21 inches (360 mm × 530 mm) boards, her concert posters were "vivid, hand-drawn bills" in an Art Nouveau style. She developed her own motif, with "elaborate plumes, curving letters and stoic faces." During her four-year run at the Fillmore, she rendered posters for Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Santana, The Allman Brothers Band, The Doors, The Who, and The Yardbirds. Getting concert attendance was her first goal. As she told the Bucks County Courier Times, "I could do what I wanted, but the object was for people to notice the poster and hopefully come out." She was a "driving force" in the San Francisco rock music scene, and her posters were instrumental in promoting The Fillmore Auditorium's success.
The Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era" exhibition began in 2005 at the Tate Liverpool, and in 2007 the exhibition traveled to the Whitney Museum of American Art which showcased her posters. Her favorite poster was "BG #75" which displays an orange and blue color peacock and its elaborate tail with white and green accents around a human face. Next to it were the names of famous bands all scheduled to perform at The Fillmore in San Francisco – the Yardbirds, the James Cotton Blues Band, Richie Havens and the Doors.
In 2015, she reprised her earlier work to commemorate the opening of the Philadelphia Fillmore.
Her posters are iconic. MacLean's posters are included in many museum collections including at the Brooklyn Museum, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco collection and at the De Young Museum, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others.
- "Bonnie MacLean". The Rock Poster Society. 2014. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
- Vaziri, Aidin (February 12, 2020). "Bonnie Maclean, pioneering rock poster artist and wife of Bill Graham, dies at 80". San Francisco Chronicle, Datebook, San Francisco Arts & Entertainment Guide.
While Maclean was not recognized among the 'big five' Haight-Ashbury poster artists who came to be associated with the iconography of the counterculture scene — Wes Wilson, Stanley Mouse, Alton Kelley, Victor Moscoso and Rick Griffin — she stood out as one of the only women in the field.
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- "Bonnie MacLean, Poster Artist & Wife of Bill Graham, Commissioned For New Fillmore Work". VVN Music. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
- Genzlinger, Neil (February 20, 2020). "Bonnie MacLean, Psychedelic Poster Artist, Is Dead at 80". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
- "Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era". whitney.org. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
- "Artist: MacLean". Brooklyn Museum. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
- "Legendary Rock Poster Artist Bonnie MacLean Dead at 80". Paste Magazine pastemagazine.com. February 12, 2020. Retrieved February 13, 2020.