[New York]: [ca. 1967]. Yellow ink on paper. 5 1⁄4 x 8 1⁄4 in. unframed, 9 1⁄4 x 11 1⁄4 in. framed. Stylized yellow text of the title of Irving Rosenthal’s novel Sheeper. Near fine. Item #5928
Original artwork by Jack Smith of an alternate cover design for Irving Rosenthal’s landmark 1967 novel Sheeper.
The published cover was designed by Richard Brodney of Grove Press and features a dragonfly against a stained glass inspired design, a nod to Rosenthal’s line in Sheeper, “Style belongs to the insects;” Smith’s drawing, however, takes a more abstract approach and echoes the novel’s hallucinatory and sexually fluid themes. Rosenthal first gained notoriety as the editor of the Chicago Review in the late 1950’s, where he published works by Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, and other Beat writers. Throughout the 1960’s he split time between New York, Cuba, and Tangier, publishing works through a variety of small presses as well as appearing in Jack Smith’s films Flaming Creatures, No President, and the Borrowed Tambourine. Upon the release of Sheeper he moved back to San Francisco with George Harris, founder of the Cockettes, and co-founded the Kaliflower commune, running the Free Print Shop there.
A unique artifact of an artistic partnership and friendship – and a testament to the many ways that gay performance and theater scenes intersected with underground and independent publishing and filmmaking across the United States and beyond.