Gonzo Goes Bang

Gonzo Museum
May 5, 2015 8:02PM

There's nothing those of us in the curatorial department at The Gonzo Museum like more than something that challenges the sanctity of just about anything. In the art world today, the impregnable, rectangular canvas is one of those things that's presented as a sort of immutable truth. But why? Why are these prints, these paintings, these photographs, all presented in that most unimaginative of shapes?

Hunter S. Thompson found a simple way of deconsecrating the supposedly sacred form: shoot it. From his Self Portrait to posters of Ronald Reagan and Mickey Mouse, he tore apart the accepted image, exploded paint across pristine photos and generally defiled previously "perfect" prints.

William S. Burroughs and Ralph Steadman, who also liked the concept of destroying any rule, decided to collaborate on their own shotgun series. Steadman created the print, Something New Has Been Added, and he and Burroughs preceded to shoot up the prints with an assortment of different types of ammunition at Burroughs' house in Lawrence, Kansas. The whole strange story is told in the article Bill and Ralph's Excellent Adventure in the Telegraph.

Something New Has Been Added - 8/10 H, 1995
Gonzo Museum

Burroughs already had a thing for shooting art, doors and people even before he collaborated with Steadman. In the 80s and 90s, he shot numerous pieces of his own art, including some of his targets.

Most of the shotgun prints we've come across are stupidly expensive, and something about them inspires a sort of cultish obsession that makes people not want to resell one once they've bought it. This has made our stockpile of shotgun art a very small one, but finally, after some cash was passed between masked men in the backstreets of Lawrence, we managed to get a few shot and signed editions of "Something New Has Been Added," and can finally offer them for a bit less than it costs for a kidney transplant.

The Burroughs Gang: Printmaker Joe Petro III, William S. Burroughs, and artist Ralph Steadman.

Gonzo Museum