William Kunstler


Completed: September, 2017
Image size: 23″ x 28″
Edition Size: 100 Prints
Paper: Somerset Enhanced 330 GSM
Archival 100% Cotton-Rag Paper
Media: Giclee Fine Art Print 


Artist’s Notes:

William Kunstler has always interested me as an historical figure, and as a hero. He could have used his training and expertise to make a lot of money and to make himself famous, but he devoted himself to helping to protect people from the powerful institutions that tried to exploit and silence them. He spent his life serving people.

Kunstler was already prolific in defending civil rights cases in 1970, when I began this artwork, printing a simple silkscreen edition of 11, titled KUNSTLER. I was experimenting with variations on a single image, an idea that many artists were using in Pop Art and photo silk screening. The screen print uses a single portrait of William Kunstler, drawn four times on a sheet of mylar using various Zip-A-Tone patterns.

(Kunstler, 1970)
In 2017, I visited the large exhibition of Corita Kent’s artwork at the Pasadena Museum of California Art (now closed), which included her photo silkscreen Phil and Dan (1969). She had used a quote from William Kunstler, combined with the image of the brothers Phil and Dan Berrigan, burning draft cards during the Vietnam War. William Kunstler defended Phil and Dan Berrigan, along with the other seven of the Catonsville Nine in 1968.

I used the same text from Corita’s print, which was Kunstler’s basis for the Catonsville Nine defense:


I hand-drew this quote in italic script beneath the four images of Kunstler’s face. I continued to develop the artwork over the summer, till September 25, 2017. There was ample space on the paper to give more biographical information about Kunstler, so I wrote about his civil rights history with different color inks, then printed various hand-carved stamps that I made in Corita’s class (1967-68), and added postage stamps along with small photos of his trials and public speeches. I worked to expand the story of Kunstler’s life, to add the context of the civil rights movements of the time, and to create a kind of graphic biography. All this in an effort to try to create the history of those times, which were an important part of my life, so many could learn more about who William Kunstler was, and that he was a courageous civil rights lawyer.

It is a very dense image with a lot of biographical imagery, words, and quotes. This new artwork is a textual photo montage, similar to many of my earliest works done between 1971-1974. I called this series Exploding Newspaper:

Exploding Newspapers

(Serigraph, 1972)
(Poster, 1972)
(Poster, 1973)

Additional information

Weight 3 lbs
Dimensions 36 × 7 × 7 in