Collection: James Stark

All items in this collection are from the personal archives of James Stark.
Speaking of Kurt Schwitters: “Artists generally gravitate toward things that are over looked, forgotten or rejected”.
Ed Ruscha, Art in America, Nov. 2011

Pioneering urban artist/photographer James Stark has worked in photography, filmmaking and painting for over fifty years having produced series of portfolios over that time which range from the streets of New York City to San Francisco punk clubs and back streets of San Francisco to landscapes of California’s Great Central Valley.


Attracted to the Bohemian lifestyle from an early age, Stark moved to New York City’s Lower East Side after his discharge from the Army in 1966. This period was part of the “Hippie” movement was followed by his return to California and settlement in San Francisco. James was one of the artists instrumental in the forming of the punk rock scene in San Francisco. Utilizing his photographic and graphic art skills James designed posters and shot photos of bands and people who populated the San Francisco scene. In 1992 he published "Punk '77: an inside look at the San Francisco Rock n' Roll scene, 1977" a history of the early days of the San Francisco Punk scene. Stark's photos were published in New York Rocker, Slash, FILE and Search and Destroy
among several other magazines. His photographs and posters were also published in “Hardcore California”, Street Art”, “The Art of Rock” and "Fucked up and Photocopied."


His posters for the band Crime have become classics and highly prized collectors items. In October of 2013 James was selected to be one of the participants in The Metropolitan Museum of Art's exhibition: Punk: Chaos to Couture. and has work in
the SFMOMA permanent collection.


After the punk scene lost its terror and was taken over by the suburban crowd James moved on to other pursuits; motorcycles, painting and a continued exploration of photography. In the late eighties he became interested in industrial/city/urban landscapes. After the dot com boom drove him out of the city Stark moved to the San Joaquin Valley, where his focus as an artist has turned to a large degree towards the rural and urban industrial landscape of California’s Central Valley.