Quicksilver concert, poster, 1967
Moscoso is without a doubt a leading figure among psychedelic poster artists. He studies art at the Cooper Union School in New York, and later attends Yale, where he meets Josef Albers, who has a great influence on his work. In 1959 he attends the San Francisco Art Institute in California. After graduating he specialises in lithographic techniques, and subsequently teaches them. In 1966 he commences his career as a graphic designer, drawing posters for the Family Dog concerts at the Avalon Ballroom, the Neon Rose posters for the Matrix and concert posters for the Fillmore West. In 1967 he displays his work at the “The Joint Show” exhibition, organised at the Moore Gallery in San Francisco, together with the other “Big Five” poster artists of the San Francisco scene: Wes Wilson, Stanley Mouse, Alton Kelley and Rick Griffin. During the Seventies he collaborates in the production of the underground comic book Zap Comix by Robert Crumb, while drawing CD covers for CBS and Round Records, like the ones for Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Herbie Hancock and David Grisman. Furthermore, he collaborates with various radio networks, designing T-shirts, advertisements and animated commercials, for which he receives two Clio Awards for “Creative excellence in advertising and design”. In 2002 the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco organises an exhibition of his work.
Psychedelic graphic design reflects the culture and the student protests of the Sixties and Seventies by experimenting new, hardly legible, typefaces, and by using dazzling colours and flaking images which mix in blurry artworks. Moscoso’s works are a link between underground comics, rock music and psychedelic graphic design. All of them are characterised by broken up images and vivid colours which make the whole composition vibrate, strengthening the messages they convey. The artist resorts to a grotesque and paradoxical style, drawing inspiration from the world of comics. For example, in the posters designed for the Avalon Ballroom, every detail is treated meticulously, in a stunning mix of typography and images. Another example is Neptune’s Notion (1967), created for a concert of the psychedelic rock band Moby Grape, where Moscoso reinterprets the famous painting by Dominique Ingres, Jupiter and Thetis (1811): in a marine scenario, Jupiter is substituted by a pink Neptune whose drape is replaced by a large yellow fish with the title of the event hidden among its scales.