Poster, 'Oz', publicity poster for Oz magazine, No 4, colour offset lithograph printed in red and black ink on card, designed by Martin Sharp, London, England, 1967
Poster, 'Oz', publicity poster for Oz magazine, No 4, colour offset lithograph printed in red and black ink on silver metallic foiled paper, designed by Martin Sharp, London, 1967.
This poster was designed to publicize Oz magazine, an outrageous satirical magazine (published Sydney and London, (1963-1973) that shocked England and Australia during the 1960s. Although the magazine began life in Sydney with Richard Neville and Richard Walsh as editors and renowned Australian designer Martin Sharp doing many of the graphics, it went on to become London Oz, a much better-produced and altogether more colourful publication than its Australian predecessor, after its launch in the UK in February 1967 (Oz ceased publication in May 1973 after 47 UK editions).
Significantly it was Sharp's Oz No. 4 poster, together with his Legalise Cannabis rally poster of 1967 (both share appropriated enthnographic engraved figures) that led to Peter Ledeboer founding his Big O poster company in September 1967. Peter Lederboer had been responsible for finding the printers used by Oz and had also discovered the metallic faced card used for book covers, used in Sharp's London poster designs. After designing the Oz poster, and the establishment of Big O, Martin Sharp went on to design a number of ground breaking record covers and posters in London including Mister Tambourine Man featuring Bob Dylan and the Disraeli Gears and Wheels of Fire record covers for Cream. (Julia Bigham, 'Day-Glo mind blow', eye, Issue 42, 01)
This Oz poster demonstrates Sharp's confidence and originality as a Pop and psychedelic poster artist. With its combination of hand-drawn typography collaged around an enlarged portrait of a South American Indian appropriated by the artist from a 19th century book of ethographic engraving, the poster demonstrates Sharp's interest in surrealism, the playful juxtapositions of ideas, artist-designed typography, and the naive romanticization and interest in ethnic cultures. The poster's captions reflect the social issues and reactions of the hippie era - 'End all marriages!/Free Love../Mindbenders/ ../ A Guide to Living in Sin/Astrology.'
Although Oz ceased publication in 1973, the legacy of Oz's existence as an underground press leader and the controversial 'School Kids Issue' trial, inspired an array of art works including David Hockney drawings, Caroline Coon's painting of the defendants, (Anderson, Neville and Dennis) naked, and John Lennon and Yoko Ono's song, God Save Oz.
(Greg Weight, 'Martin Sharp - Australian Artist, http://www.greenplanet.com.au/gallery/msharp/workin.htm)
Jane Conners, Laughing at the Royals, in Australians and the Monarchy, 1993 - http://www.arts.monash.edu.au/ncas/teach/resources/austudies/latr.html.
Cygnet Online, February 2004 http://www.library.uwa.edu.au/collection/australian/page3.html.
Berwyn Lewis, 'Viva Vincent,' The Australian Magazine, July 14015, 1990 p39.
Peter Mudie, UBU: Sydney Underground Movies 1966-70, UNSW Press, 1997.
Oz magazine, London - alt.venus.co.uk/weed/zines/oz01_04.htm - 4k - 6 Mar 2004
Tony Palmer, The Trials of Oz, Blond & Briggs, 1971. (Detailed document of the Oz case, the longest obscenity trial in English history, incl. transcripts. Drawings by Feliks Topolski.)
Yvette Steinhauer, Face to face: along the Yellow House road, Good Weekend, 16 April, 1988 p8.
Nick Waterlow, Larrikins in London: An Australian presence in 1960s London exhibition catalogue, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, UNSW, 4 September - 11 October, 2003.
Greg Weight, 'Martin Sharp - Australian Artist' - http://www.greenplanet.com.au/gallery/msharp/workin.htm.
Oz's larrikin attitude, very much in the tradition of the student newspapers where its founders had cut their teeth, concentrated on social satire with humorous cartoons and other artistic material depicting politicians, royalty, and other public figures in an irreverent fashion. Reflective of the group's satirical and humorous attitude is launch date for the first issue which hit the streets on April Fool's Day, 1963. Although articles of more serious socio-political content were also featured, Oz's radical anti-establishment profile quickly made it a target for the authorities. Oz became a casualty of the so-called 'Censorship Wars' when Issue no. 6 (Feb. 1964) caught the attention of the censors. Editors Richard Neville, Richard Walsh, and artist Martin Sharp, were charged under obscenity laws, found guilty under the Obscene and Indecent Publications Act, and sentenced to jail terms with hard labour, a decision, fortunately for the defendants, quashed on appeal.
It transpired that the controversy ensuing this conviction would influence the course of Martin Sharp's career as it gained Martin Sharp a considerable public following, prompting his first one-man exhibition at the Clune Galleries in Sydney in 1965. 'Art for Mart's Sake' virtually sold out on the opening night, broadening the artist's horizons. After the distasteful experience of the first OZ trial, Neville and Sharp needed little encouragement to leave Australia for England where they established London Oz in 1967. London Oz was a much better-produced and altogether more colourful publication than its Australian precursor. However, it too had its problems with the authorities. Neville, Felix Dennis and Jim Anderson faced trial for corrupting public morals following their publication of the infamous School Kids Issue (No28).
The vendor has been a collector of posters in Paris and Australia since the late 1960s.