Ed Hardy: Deeper than Skin is the first museum retrospective of Ed Hardy, the renowned tattoo artist known for fueling the late 20th-century boom in the practice of tattoo. Featuring more than 300 objects ranging from paintings and sketches (including drawings Hardy created as a 10-year-old) to prints and three- dimensional works, the exhibition tracks the evolution of tattooing from its “outsider” status through Hardy’s work and influence.
Growing up in Southern California, Hardy was fascinated by the tattoos that he observed on the fathers of his neighborhood friends (mostly servicemen who had served in World War II). During this time Hardy haunted the tattoo parlors on Long Beach Pike, where he learned to draw tattoo designs for his “kiddie tattoo shop.” As a printmaking student at the San Francisco Art Institute in the mid-1960s, Hardy began to study the intricacies of prints by artists such as Dürer, Rembrandt, and Goya at the Legion of Honor’s Achenbach Foundation for the Graphic Arts, the department responsible for the Fine Arts Museums’ collection of more than 115,000 works on paper. At the Achenbach he mined for inspiration for his own work. In 1966, while getting one of his first tattoos from the legendary Phil Sparrow in Oakland, Hardy was introduced to a book on Japanese tattooing, which reignited his love for the medium and inspired his future career. Turning down a graduate fellowship in fine arts from Yale University, Hardy instead decided to begin tattooing professionally.
“Ed Hardy reinvented the very nature of the tattoo, inspired in large part by his early exposure to the masterworks in our collection,” says Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “His impact has transformed the tattoo industry and we are delighted to provide the opportunity for wider audiences to explore his tremendous achievement both on and off the body.”
In 1974 Hardy opened Realistic Tattoo in San Francisco, which became the first tattoo studio in the United States to offer custom tattoos based on clients’ wishes and needs.
Ed Hardy On view through October 6, 2019
Visiting \ de Young
Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco. Open 9:30 am–5:15 pm Tuesdays–Sundays. Open select holidays; closed most Mondays.
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