It is with great pleasure that Tattoo Life brings you to the opening reception of the highly anticipated retrospective by the godfather of modern tattooing, Don Ed Hardy: “Ed Hardy, Deeper Than Skin”.

I have never been so excited to see a museum exhibition! This feeling grew as we walked up to this landmark SF museum and saw “Ed Hardy” emblazoned on the entry windows! It’s a special achievement for a man who has given us all so much, Ed has really made San Francisco a “Tattoo City” with his lifelong efforts. I can’t think of a more fitting venue to celebrate his creative drive and as expected, the opening reception was packed to the gills with tickets selling out well in advance.

Of course an event of this magnitude was well received and supported by the tattoo community. All of us have been moved by Ed’s art at one time or another and the artists showed up in droves! It was too crowded to see everyone but we were happy to see Leo Zuluete, Dianne Mansfield, Juan Puente, Doug Hardy, Chad Koeplinger, Chuck Eldridge and the Book Mistress, Scott Sterling, Junii Salmon, Mary Joy, Jen Lee, Kahlil Rintye, Mike McCabe, Andreas Coenan, to name a few… We also chatted with Ed’s longtime friend Mark Murai, who was one of many present that wear some of Ed’s most influential work. Ed has poured his life and soul into tattoo art and this was evident in many ways opening night!

Ed Hardy, Deeper Than Skin, an exhibition at de Young Museum, in San Francisco
Ed Hardy, Deeper Than Skin, an exhibition at de Young Museum, in San Francisco

The exhibition was expertly organized, taking you through the many creative phases of Ed’s lifelong body of work perfectly placing it in a historical context. You enter through a long hall, aptly decorated with a vibrant (is there any other kind?) Ed Hardy dragon accented by a lone neon “ED HARDY” sign guiding you in. Once in, it is an assault on your visual senses, beautifully displayed, each room conveys a different mood to view its contents. The atmosphere is solemn and serious yet joyous and playful at the same time. Adjacent to classical paintings, you will find projection displays, painted boogie boards, old tattoo flash and everything in between.

It was wonderful to see the 2000 dragon scroll (which I hadn’t seen in almost two decades) and experience it as the  serpentine “walking maze” of creativity it was meant to be. I have followed Ed’s work since Tattootime in the 80’s and this retrospective does justice to the creative body of work of this living legend. Well done!! The catalogue is a must have book to this must see exhibition! And yes, I’ll probably go back at least a dozen more times!!!

Text by Taki “Ryudaibori” Kitamura (State of Grace Tattoo)
Instagram: @stateofgracetaki

More about the exhibition:
«As a young artist in 1966, Ed Hardy announced his belief that tattooing should be elevated from its outsider, subculture status. Today, more than fifty years after formulating that ambitious dream, Hardy is internationally acknowledged as the father of modern tattoo culture. He did not achieve this alone—he relied on the advice, training, and wisdom of mentors like American tattooers Bert Grimm, Phil Sparrow (Samuel Steward), and Sailor Jerry (Norman Collins), as well as master Japanese tattooer Horihide (Kazuo Oguri). Building on their knowledge, Hardy transformed their old-school tattoo world with his progressive ideas, giving new life to the art form while preserving its core traits. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco is pleased to present Hardy’s first museum retrospective, which includes many works that combine traditional tattoo imagery with Asian-inspired calligraphic brush painting. Surveying his life in art, the exhibition examines the wide range of subjects and styles that Hardy has embraced over his career. We are deeply grateful to the artist for so generously sharing his collection with our museum audience».

Text by Karin Breuer (Curator In Charge _Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts)

Ed Hardy: Deeper than Skin
July 13 – October 6, 2019
de Young Museum
Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
San Francisco, CA 94118