Ed Hardy's first retrospective paints him as fine artist

Posted Friday, 12 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

SAN FRANCISCO — When people hear the name Ed Hardy, they likely think of the flashy, tiger- and skull-emblazoned clothing that rocketed to popularity in the 2000s, appearing on the likes of Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and cast members from the reality TV show "Jersey Shore." Others recognize Hardy as a trailblazing tattooer whose unique designs were licensed for use on apparel and merchandise, and whose legacy transcends the brand's current notoriety. But few know him as a prolific fine artist. "The clothing was one little blip on his whole career, which was staggering," said Mary Joy Scott, a tattoo artist who apprenticed under Hardy and works at the San Francisco shop he founded, Tattoo City. Five miles (8 kilometers) southwest of Tattoo City, a lively exhibition opening Friday at the de Young Museum sheds light on Hardy as wide-ranging artist and tattoo pioneer. Through 300 paintings, prints, drawings and objects, "Ed Hardy: Deeper than Skin" is the first retrospective of his work and shows how Hardy intertwined fine art with tattooing to push both forward. "Ed Hardy's mission (was) to elevate the tattoo form from its subculture status back in the 1960s at least to a level of a folk art. I think he surpassed that," said curator Karin Breuer. "Here it is in museum culture." The exhibition, which follows Hardy's donation of 152 prints to the museum, bursts with color as it tracks the 74-year-old artist's evolution. It features crayon drawings of sample tattoos Hardy made as a 10-year-old, when he set up a tattoo shop for friends in his Southern California neighborhood of Corona del Mar. Prints from his college days at the San Francisco Art Institute are displayed alongside lithographs and etchings by the likes of Rodolphe Bresdin and Gordon Cooke, who inspired Hardy. "I'm part of a continuum," Hardy said of his art idols. "There's a lot more to my life than tattooing." One of the first pieces in "Deeper than Skin" is a 1967 print entitled "Future Plans," in which a then-undergraduate Hardy, with only a few tattoos, portrays himself as fully inked. The exhibition comes full circle with its final image, a blown-up 2009 photo of a bare-chested, tattoo-covered Hardy, now a full-fledged artist retired from tattooing thanks to the financial windfall of the clothing brand. Visitors can get a projected animation of a Hardy tattoo design "applied" to their skin. They can also walk along a snaking, 2,000-square-foot (186-square-meter) scroll suspended from the ceiling on which Hardy painted 2,000 dragons in the year 2000. "Ed Hardy is the only tattooer in the Western world who could merit a show of this kind," said Matt Lodder, a University of Essex professor who studies the history of tattoo as art. "Tattooers of a particular mode are all working, whether they know it or not, in a kind of pattern Ed Hardy was the first to lay down." When Hardy began tattooing in 1967 after abandoning plans to attend Yale art school, he was one of the few American tattoo artists with a fine arts background. Hardy was also the first Western tattoo artist to study traditional Japanese tattooing abroad. When he returned stateside, Hardy blended those techniques with the American sailor and military tattoo types to develop his signature style: colorful hearts, clouds, dragons, daggers, roses and ribbons with bold, black outlines. In 1974, Hardy moved away from offering pre-designed "flash" tattoos towards made-to-order work, an approach that's now the norm. Before Hardy, no other tattoo shop operated that way. The exhibition displays Hardy's custom pencil sketches and watercolors beneath photographs of the works inked on human bodies. "It's rather shocking to some people that we can jump from an exhibition of Monet paintings to an exhibition of a tattoo artist," Breuer said. The de Young offers discounts for tattooed visitors in an attempt to attract a wider demographic. The retrospective, which runs through Oct. 6, marks changing sensibilities in the art world as museums embrace tattoo as fine art. An overlapping exhibition at San Francisco's Asian Art Museum showcases tattoos in Japanese prints. "It's a terrific affirmation, not only for myself, but for a lot of the old bandits and pirates that helped me in the business," Hardy said. "They operated outside polite society, outside of the structure that controls what people think of as art."

Other articles published by Las Vegas Sun

Posted Sunday, 21 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

Former Vice President Joe Biden didn’t hide his criticism of President Trump during a campaign visit to Las Vegas on Saturday, telling supporters his presidency would return the nation to normalcy. Biden briefly spoke at the start of a campaign phone...

Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

NEW YORK — ESPN is reminding employees of the network's policy to avoid talking about politics after radio talk show host Dan Le Batard criticized President Donald Trump and his recent racist comments and ESPN itself on the air this week. The reminder...

Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

RENO — UNR officials are negotiating to house 1,300 students in a tower that is part of a casino resort while two dormitories are closed to repair damage from a July 5 natural gas explosion. Officials said the talks with Eldorado Resorts call for the...

Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

The sixth season of the annual Play of the Day betting competition between the Sun's sports staff is now under way, effective July 1. Bankrolls start at $10,000 for each of the four participants, with the objective to increase it as much as possible over ...

Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

LA MONGIE, France — The first super-tough 2,000-meter (6,500-foot) climb of the Tour de France proved to be no obstacle for Julian Alaphilippe, the race leader who kept his yellow jersey while defending champion Geraint Thomas struggled up the...

Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's seizure of a British oil tanker near the Persian Gulf was in response to Britain's role in impounding an Iranian supertanker first, senior figures in Iran said Saturday, prompting condemnation from the U.K. and its European allies ...

Co-stars say Huffman remorseful for role in college case Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

LOS ANGELES — Felicity Huffman's co-stars in a new Netflix movie say they found her remorseful about her role in a college admissions scandal. Actress Angela Bassett said Huffman appears ready to take whatever steps are necessary in her case. Patricia...

In border city, asylum seekers band together to bear the wait Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

SAN LUIS RIO COLORADO, Mexico — A small group of asylum seekers sit under a canopy on the side of a road leading into the United States, chatting to pass the time as a blazing desert sun pushes the heat into triple digits and fumes roll in from dozens...

Polish city's first LGBT pride parade disrupted Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

WARSAW, Poland — Police in eastern Poland say they detained a number of people who verbally abused and tried to block participants in the first LGBT pride parade held in a city that hosted far-right marches in the past. Police in riot gear and border...

What consumers can do as regulators weigh compounds' risks Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

WASHINGTON — At first, Tomas Monarrez didn't notice the labels when he went shopping for pots and pans. 'Completely toxin free!" said a big green message on a line of nonstick frying pans in the cookware aisle at a store in the nation's capital. "No...

Germany marks 75th anniversary of plot to kill Hitler Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Europeans to confront populism, nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism as she paid tribute to the Nazi resistance in her own country. Speaking Saturday at a solemn ceremony marking the anniversary of...

Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

Many folks, the man himself included, considered last season a disappointing one for William Karlsson. The 26-year-old was practically Superman in 2017-2018, when he netted 43 goals and put up 78 points in a breakout season. Fans clamored for an encore,...

Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

LOS ANGELES — Manny Pacquiao has had a whole lot more to say about boxing ever since he became a politician. The 40-year-old Filipino senator who once understandably shied away from lengthy conversations in English is more comfortable in the language....

Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

The iconic trees that give Joshua Tree National Park its name could be virtually extinct in the park by 2020 if no action is taken to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, a new study from UC Riverside has found. The study focused on western Joshua...

Test your knowledge of the space race Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

Today marks the 50th anniversary of U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin’s historic walk on the moon. “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” Armstrong famously said, as an estimated 530 million...