Printed Matter is pleased to present an exhibition on the legendary sixties folk rock group The Fugs. On view throughout the summer, FUCK FOR PEACE: A History of The Fugs showcases the band’s records and ephemera as well as the dozens of publications published by The Fugs’ founding members Tuli Kupferberg and Ed Sanders.
Formed in 1965 by Tuli Kupferberg and Ed Sanders, The Fugs were the latest brush stroke by the two poets, who already held a prominent position in the milieu of New York City’s downtown literary, art, and music culture. Both were practicing writers and publishers and were well known as luminaries in New York’s thriving underground.
Kupferberg had been active in beatnik and anarchist circles since the forties, and, beginning in the mid-fifties, published several magazines and books on his Birth Press. A complete set of Yeah and Swing Magazines from Kupferberg’s personal collection will be on view along with other Birth Press publications.
Sanders was also very active in the small press scene, and his Fuck You Press published books and pamphlets by writers such as W.H. Auden, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Ezra Pound, and William Burroughs, as well as Sanders himself. Infamous for his mimeograph journal Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts, Sanders published work by everyone from Antonin Artuad to Andy Warhol. A full run of the magazine will be on view along with a majority of the Fuck You publications.
In 1965, Sanders opened Peace Eye Books in the East Village, which not only served as the band’s practice space but also as a meeting place for leaders of New York’s underground: Andy Warhol, George Plimpton, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, James Michener, and Harry Smith, to name but a few.
FUCK FOR PEACE: A History of The Fugs focuses on The Fugs as a band that was both the result and extension of Kupferberg and Sander’s creative and publishing endeavors. The exhibition will showcase records and ephemera, including posters, flyers, hand-written lyric sheets, songbooks, and fan letters as well as publications by both Kupferberg and Sanders. This is the first exhibition to focus solely on The Fugs, and certainly the first time that all this work has been presented together.
The Fugs recorded seven albums (The Village Fugs, The Fugs, It Crawled into My Hand, Honest, and Tenderness Junction, among them) for Folkways, ESP, and Reprise before playing their final gig at Hershey Park in 1969 with the Grateful Dead. The band’s activism, performances, and song titles (such as “War Kills Babies,” “Kill for Peace,” “Group Grope,” “Coca Cola Douche,” and “I Couldn’t get High”) positioned The Fugs as a seminal voice of sixties underground culture. As such they were the subject of controversy regarding their explicit song lyrics, live shows, and war protests, attracting the attention of the Justice Department and the FBI. Despite their premature demise in 1969, The Fugs regrouped in the 1980s and are still actively recording today.
This exhibition is made possible through the support of Phil Aarons, William Bahan, Ann Butler and The Fales Collection at New York University, Tuli Kupferberg, Jeffrey Nelson, Ed Sanders, and Elizabeth Sporleder.