Bruce Conner (1933 – 2008) was a draft dodger artist who fetched up in San Francisco in 1957 and fell in with the beatnik and experimental art crowd. He founded the Rat Bastard Protective Association. It's name derived from slang that beat poet Michael McClure had picked up, from the Scavengers Protective Society (the SF garbage collectors) and from the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB, like the Rat Bastard's RBP). A parody of art societies and movements, it's members were entitled to use the RBP seal of approval on their work.
|Bruce in his studio midden, 1959|
|Collage From the Dennis Hopper One Man Show, c.1961|
|Rat Back Pack, 1959. Conner carrying Sammy Davis Jr.?|
|Ratbastard, 1958. The original man-bag|
|Black Dahlia, 1959|
|Portrait of Allen Ginsberg, c.1960-61|
"I think one of the themes of the work is an assumption that the creature is good. That the society which we have is alienating to the animal. It expresses power and violence and death and that's its main structure. And the signs of that are in the symbols we see all around us in the art, in the clothes, in the roles that people play in society. That people have to deal with this crucifixion of the spirit all the time; and that how well they shine through that is the triumph of those individuals".
|Bruce Conner (right) chanting with Ginsberg and Michael McClure at Ginsberg's pad, San Francisco 1965|