June 25, 2010
A recent arrival at the Grateful Dead Archive is Startling Art: Revealing the Art of Dennis Larkins (La Luz de Jesus Press/Last Gasp, 2010). The gift of a supporter who is a fan of Larkins, the book documents the remarkable career of the artist whom Deadheads know as the man responsible for the famous posters of the Dead’s legendary runs at the Warfield and Radio City Music Hall in October 1980. Though not a Deadhead tome by any means, Startling Art does have some important Dead content, reproducing the Radio City Music Hall poster, the Downs at Santa Fe show (17 Oct. 1982), and the gatefold from Dead Set. What may most interest Dead fans and scholars, aside the from the fine overview of Larkins’ unique style and sensibility, are the book’s insights into Larkins’ oversized set pieces for the Dead’s stages, as well as for several other bands, most notably the Rolling Stones. Overall, the book demonstrates that Larkins’ work for the Dead is a vital part of his career and oeuvre that informs his broader vision and contribution as an artist.