Legendary Rock Poster Artist Bonnie MacLean Dead at 80

Music News Bonnie MacLean
Legendary Rock Poster Artist Bonnie MacLean Dead at 80

Bonnie MacLean was an American artist famous for her psychedelic posters for artists like The Who and Jefferson Airplane throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s. Paste received news Wednesday of her passing on Tuesday, Feb. 4. She was 80 years old. MacLean spent her later life in Bucks County, Pa., and passed while staying at the Buckingham Valley Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.

A source close to MacLean tells Paste that the artistic community to which MacLean belonged was a boy’s club, but that if she had been a man, “it would have been the Big Six.” They are referring, of course, to “The Big Five” San Francisco artists, of whom Wes Wilson, who passed just last month, was also a member.

MacLean will be perhaps most remembered for her Fillmore Auditorium poster series, which are included, among some of her other works, in the Brooklyn Museum, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the DeYoung Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. MacLean had been painting noticeboards at the Fillmore Auditorium when Wilson, who was the main poster designer at the time, left after feeling “stifled” by famous concert promoter Bill Graham. MacLean then created around 30 posters up until 1967. Graham and MacLean would go on to marry, having one son, David (pictured above), before divorcing in 1975.

MacLean’s style often dabbled in storybook expressionism, with great wooden engravings, fae-like women and mystic renderings of peacocks. Her style is definitive among the works of other poster artists at the time, with a clear whimsy and talent behind each.

Some of MacLean’s collectable works are available on our sister site, Wolfgang’s. Check out her exquisite work there.

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