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Ed Hardy "Surf or Die"

Ed Hardy "Surf or Die"

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From: Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver
Limited Edition: 5
Exhibition: See into Liquid
Material: Printed 2-ply vinyl
Dimensions: 31" x 89" (78.74cm x 226.06cm)

Hanging Hardware Included


If you skipped work to surf today, just say the devil made you do it... we've got the banner to back you up! 5 banners from the Museum of Contemporary Art|Denver's exhibition "See into Liquid" offer a wild ride. The banners feature artist Don Ed Hardy's 2004 lithograph "Surf or Die" with a vivid red devil surfing a Hiroshige-like wave on the back of a fantastical sea-dragon.


Don Ed Hardy (b. 1945) has spent the past four decades working as a tattoo artist. But his work is not the stuff of serpent-wrapped swords or hearts engraved with "Mom". His art combines the best of western tattoo style and iconography with the more elaborate, finely-detailed elements of Japanese tattooing. Bringing these styles together in the 1960's, Hardy was instrumental in bringing tattoo art from something of a fringe oddity to where it is today - a mainstream cultural phenomenon. When Hardy started his San Francisco shop, Tattoo City, there were about 500 tattoo artists working in North America. Now there are over 50,000

Moving beyond tattoo art, Hardy also works in painting, drawing, and printmaking, creating a dramatic, mysterious, humorous, and oddly beautiful world that defies categorization. The colors are vivid, the images crisp, and the messages mixed. It was appropriate, then, that Hardy was included in the exhibition See Into Liquid, which featured contemporary artists whose work addresses the polarities of the sea. The waters are both calm and cruel, serene and terrifying, personal and impersonal.

Certainly Hardy's 2004 print, Surf or Die epitomizes those polarities. The simple pleasure and excitement of an avid surfer is morphed maniacally when that surfer becomes the devil - and his board is transformed into a sea serpent/dragon. The mythical beast upon which he surfs seems to emerge as a personification of the water itself, daring the surfer to lose his footing amidst the towering wave. The influence of tattoo art and Hardy's training and travels in Japan are evident in the stylization of the wave and the fine detailing of the print.

It is this dramatic print which is featured on banners from the exhibition. The large-scale image on the banner makes a powerful statement. Below it is a blue band with white text that reads, "jan 27 - may 28", and includes the museum's "M|C|A" logo. Both sides of this banner are identical.


These banners were displayed around Denver, Colorado from January 27 to May 28, 2006 to promote the exhibition See into Liquid at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.

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