Artist Arnold Skolnick Who Made Woodstock Poster Passed Away At 85
via PosterArt Rochester / Youtube
Arnold Skolnick, best-known as the artist who created the iconic poster for Woodstock, has passed away at the age of 85. His son, Alexander, confirmed the news that his father died June 15 due to respiratory failure.
The late artist was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and worked as a freelancer serving many of the city’s ad agencies. In 1969, Skolnick received a phone call from John Morris, the production coordinator of Woodstock. The initial choice to do the poster, artist David Edward Byrd, known for designing rock concert posters for the Fillmore East, made an inappropriate poster for the festival’s theme so Byrd asked Skolnick if he could come up with something.
Skolnick later recalled in an interview:
“They gave [the assignment] to me on Thursday … and I brought it by to them on Monday afternoon. It was just another job, but it became famous.”
His artwork was inspired by the work of 19th-century post-impressionist artist Henri Matisse. Skolnick created his design by cutting shapes of colored paper. He later explained to the Stamford Advocate:
“It was very simple. It said the whole thing. It said peace, it said music. It was very colorful, so people did not forget it.”
Woodstock became one of the most famous festival in American history that was held Aug. 15–18, 1969. It became a pivotal moment in the hippie counterculture movement with more than 30 acts, many of whom rank among rock’s most celebrated artists. Skolnick who was in his early 30s at that time later admitted:
“If I had been 16 or 17, I probably would have enjoyed it.”
Later in his life, he continued as a graphic artist and transitioned to publishing. For decades, Skolnick produced and published art books through his company Chameleon Books.