Last fall I scored a set of 1960's college posters. I didn't know much about them, but I thought they were cool - isn't that just how it is sometimes? Anyway, I set them aside and didn't do anything with them until about a week ago, when I re-discovered them while rummaging through a shelf of to-be-listed inventory.
They were all in a box, labeled Prattonia 1967. A quick Google search led me to the Pratt Institute, a college in New York. I figured they were like a promotional item, as a lot of the posters were for the different departments of the college. I started listing them on Etsy, and made a couple very cool discoveries...
The first one was this poster, for the Graphic Art & Design department:
Just Kids, which is an autobiographical account of her relationship with Mapplethorpe. The book is on my To Read list, and the poster is at auction on eBay right now.
Once I got that neat discovery sorted out, I kept on listing. I got to one of the most perfectly 60's posters in the lot, that both Will and I absolutely love, and are keeping for ourselves:
It wasn't long before he accepted my request, and I sent him a message explaining about the posters. I got the nicest email back, which he has generously allowed me to post here:
"A nice surprise, hearing from someone out of the blue.
That box is actually a "yearbox"; it is the actual, official yearbook for Pratt Institute for 1967. It is NOT promotion, though that's arguable.
Robert Mapplethorpe was indeed a friend of mine and donated a drawing to this yearbook - he didn't do photography back then. This "psychedelic" drawing of his is signed by him, and it is a portrait of me, drawn from life on one strung-out night in his weird apartment near Pratt. We later became even better friends and worked together occasionally in the 70s and 80s, on museum catalogs of his photographic art, commissioned editorial photography (I was Art Director of the Village Voice), and we even did an LP record jacket for John Giorno's spoken word label. I knew Patti Smith, too, whom he hung around with those days. I don't know if I'm in her recent best-selling book, "Just Kids."
Unlike the prestigious Gold Medal awarded to Pratt's 1966 yearbook, "my" 1967 Prattonia also won a nice award from the NY Art Directors Club (yes,it was just like Mad Men). And it was included in the Museum of Modern Art's library collection, all of which got my long career off to a great start.
Now I am much older, much poorer, and fairly disabled. Thanks for reminding me of my glorious and sometimes mis-spent youth."
Not only did he contribute artwork to be used on the posters, he actually worked on the design of the entire set! Here is George (holding the saucy bowler hat) and the yearbook team on their very own poster:
"Robert drew in blue ballpoint on a pale yellow sheet; I have the original, which is much more delicate than this scan. I didn’t even realize he was sketching me at the time, but I do remember how sad he seemed that night, and concerned about being drafted, and probably flying high on acid. To please his conservative dad, he’d enlisted in Pratt’s ROTC, for which he apparently had some aptitude (a kind of military reticence) but like all of us he’d turned against the Vietnam War. Hence the torment. Not to mention realizing being gay, this was before all that. I also remember some kind of altar with a rubber chicken. You can partially see Robert’s signature, bottom right, on this crop. One never called him Bob or Bobby."
Needless to say, this whole Pratt poster experience has been a fun one, and a reminder of why I love my job and the connective power of these here interwebs!
Let me show you some of my favorite posters besides the ones above:
Health Services - this one is already sold...
Well, I guess I could put them all here as my favorites really - they are all awesome! Click on over to check them all out :)