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An image of Mister Tambourine Man by Martin Sharp

Martin Sharp

(Australia 21 Jan 1942 – 01 Dec 2013)

Mister Tambourine Man
Other titles:
Blowing in the mind
Mr Tambourine Man
Blowin' in the mind
Place of origin
Media category
Materials used
screenprint, printed in black and red ink from multiple stencils, on gold foil laminated paper

75.4 x 49.8 cm image/sheet

Signature & date
Signed within image to print l.r. corner, "SHARP". Not dated.
Thea Proctor Memorial Fund 1970
Accession number
© Estate of Martin Sharp. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney.
Contemporary galleries
Further information

'Mister Tambourine Man' was produced while Sharp was living in London and working as an illustrator for the underground magazine Oz. The image appeared on the cover of the seventh issue of the satirical journal, one of the most visually exciting publications of its time. Sharp also designed posters for musicians and bands, including Donovan, Cream and Jimmy Hendrix.

Sharp's image draws on the lyrics of the song by the subject of the poster, Bob Dylan. This image of the singer is synonymous with an emerging spirit of the 1960s. Emphasising youth culture’s emphasis on change and experimentation, Dylan’s lyrics have been widely interpreted as recounting his early experiences with LSD. Experimentation with LSD and other psychedelic drugs became a major component of 1960s counterculture, influencing philosophy, art, music and styles of dress. As one commentator noted, 'Sharp's living colour interpretation of LSD provided an instant in to psychedelia'.

This complex, multi-stencil design is printed on gold foil paper, and features spiralling circular motifs which radiate from the singer's head. Sharp has related 'Mister Tambourine Man' and other images from this period to his experience visiting the ancient Cambodian temple complex of Angkor in 1966. There he witnessed majestic fig trees sprout from the multitude of smiling faces which grace the towers at the Bayon temple of Angkor Thom.

Bibliography (6)

Roger Arthur Butler, Poster art in Australia: the streets as art galleries - walls sometimes speak, Canberra, 1993, 44 (colour illus.). NOTE: this is an impression from the collection of the National Gallery of Australia and is dated 1968,

Christine France, Art and Australia (Vol. 47, No. 1), 'Martin Sharp: A democratic surrealism', pg. 90-99, Paddington, 2009, 92 (colour illus.), 96. Collection National Gallery of Australia

David Alan Mellor and Laurent Gervereau (Editors), The sixties. Britain and France, 1960-1973, London, 1997, 198 (colour illus.). NOTE: this is not the AGNSW impression.

Martin Sharp., Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, 'Mister Tambourine Man', text on his own poster, Canberra, 2002, 263 (colour illus.). Collection National Gallery of Australia

Natalie Wilson., Notes from the river caves: Peter Kingston and Martin Sharp, 'Notes from the River Caves: Peter Kingston and Martin Sharp', Sydney, 2006, (colour illus.). Website catalogue for the 'Notes from the River Caves: Peter Kingston and Martin Sharp' exhibition held at the AGNSW in 2006.

High art: a history of the psychedelic poster, 'Martin Sharp', pg. 139-141, London, 1999, 122, 142 (colour illus.), 143. NOTE: this is not the AGNSW impression.

Exhibition history (3)

Larrikins in London: An Australian presence in 1960s London, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Paddington, 04 Sep 2003–11 Oct 2003

Australian Collection Focus: Notes from the River Caves: Peter Kingston & Martin Sharp, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 20 Sep 2006–19 Nov 2006

Pop to popism, 01 Nov 2014–01 Mar 2015