Victor Moscoso is a Galician-American artist best known for producing psychedelic music posters, advertisements, and underground comics in San Francisco during the 1960s and 1970s.
Born in Spain, Victor was the first of the rock poster artists of the 60’s era with formal academic training and experience. After studying art at Cooper Union in New York City and at Yale University, he moved to San Francisco in 1959. There, he attended the San Francisco Art Institute, where he eventually became an instructor.
At a dance at the Avalon Ballroom, Moscoso saw rock posters and decided that he could “make some money doing posters for those guys.”
At a dance at the Avalon Ballroom, Moscoso saw rock posters and decided that he could “make some money doing posters for those guys.” In the fall of 1966 he began designing posters for the Family Dog and also produced posters for the Avalon Ballroom. Under his own imprint, Neon Rose, he did a series for Matrix, a local night spot. Moscoso’s style is most notable for its visual intensity, which is obtained by manipulating form and color to create optical effects. Moscoso’s use of intense color contrasts and vibrating edges and borders was influenced by painter Josef Albers, his teacher at Yale. Given Moscoso’s artistic sophistication, it is not surprising that he was the first of the rock poster artists to use photographic collage.“ – Therese Thau Heyman. Posters American Style (New York and Washington, D.C.: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., in association with the National Museum of American Art, 1998).
His productions are distinguished by the use of vibrant colors juxtaposed so as to seemingly vibrate, and an almost unintelligible font which seeks to expand upon, and blend in with, the surrounding images on a single plane. Neither image nor text dominates. Quintessentially psychedelic and San Francisco during the Summer of Love period. The poster art of Victor Moscoso stands as the archetypal expression of the hippie era. With vibrating colours and psychedelic imagery, his posters take you straight back to that special vibe of the late 1960s San Fransisco.
Many of these posters were displayed in rock concert halls like the Matrix, Avalon Ballroom and the Fillmore. These concerts had improvisational rock music and elaborate light shows with coloured lights, projections and strobe lights. The poster’s colours would appear and disappear as the various coloured lights shined upon their surface further adding to the dynamics of the posters and the psychedelic aesthetic of the time.
Moscoso created works which are classic examples of the peak of psychedelic poster art and commercial graphic design. He changed the rules and developed a visual lexicon which juxtaposed psychedelic art and the traditional arts of the past. He moved from the simple design and subdued colours of the past to hot colours and use of the artistic hand.