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John Severson book targets birth of surf culture

Greg Noll © John Severson

Surfing went pop culture with the 1960s page prints. 14 July, - John Severson (born 1933) revolutionized pop culture's vision of surfing and surf culture through his prolific artistic output that transverses decades and disciplines. He began his career as a painter, selling his canvases at Long Beach State College. These first works consisted of oil paintings, photographs, drawings and prints relating to Hawaiian and Californian surf culture. In 1958, Severson expanded his repertoire and created a series of popular surf movies, such as Surf Safari, Surf Fever, Big Wednesday and Pacific Vibrations... .

While his were among the first surf movies, it was the posters associated with them, hugely popular when issued in the 1950s and 1960s, that remain collector favorites today. Showcased in these early posters, his graphic skills translated easily to Surfer magazine, which he founded in 1960.

The magazine was the first to celebrate and revolutionize the art and sport of surfing, establishing it as a powerful pop culture phenomenon. The first issue was a 36-page collection of black-and-white photos, cartoon sketches and short articles--every aspect of which was created by Severson himself. His photographs appeared in Life, Sports Illustrated, Paris Match and other print venues. John Severson's SURF explores Severson's surf odyssey through painting, photography, film and publishing.


John Severson working an early version of Surfer Magazine

Featuring an interview with the artist by Nathan Howe, artist and curator at Puka Puka, Hawaii, foreword by Gerry Lopez, surfer and co-founder of Lightning Bolt surfboards and afterword by Drew Kampion, author and former editor of Surfer, John Severson's SURF documents the birth of surf culture and serves as a testament to our ocean.

Puka Puka (founded 2009 in Maui, Hawaii) is a shop and exhibition space with a program that integrates Polynesian and international art and culture. The name Puka Puka references the utmost, remote atoll in the Pacific, also called Danger Islands, and is the subject of Robert Dean Frisbie's South Sea's trader's novel from 1929. The two story Hawaiian outpost champions expeditions in art, fashion, media and site specific collaborations in the context of surf culture, set adrift somewhere between Old Hawaii and an undiscovered paradise.

John Severson's SURF
Hbk, 9.5 X 12.25 in. / 212 pgs / illustrated throughout
Foreword by Gerry Lopez
Interview by Nathan Howe. Afterword by Drew Kampion
Published by Damiani / PUKA PUKA

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