Holy Smoke Frog Hookah poster 1967 by Robert Fried

Bob Fried


Holy Smoke, 1967


lithograph, Near Mint, backed with linen


Framed: 36 1/4" tall x 29 3/4" wide






Close-up of frame

Frame at angle


This is a classic 1967 “head shop” poster created to be sold to 1960s teens to put on their wall. Not much is known about the poster but it’s surely a bucolic and peaceful scene. It was a caterpillar that smoked a hookah in Alice in Wonderland (a common late sixties meme) so why the toad? We do know that in 1967 research had just been republished asserting the psychedelic qualities associated with smoking the venom of the Bufo Alvarius toad! But even that is a stretch.



Robert Fried was in Brooklyn in 1937. While not considered one of the San Francisco “Big Five,” psychedelic poster artists, Fried was valued for his technical skill and creative application of the abstract to a commercial execution. Like Victor Moscoso, he was one of the rare SF School poster artists who was formally trained as an artist and graphic designer.



Fried’s formal training gave his work remarkable precision and restraint, creating designs that explored geometry and color in a strikingly unique style. He wanted to keep them simple to convey feelings of dimensional space, similar to an acid trip. This poster is dated bottom left and says #3, which was the numbering system for this series by “The Food,” which was Fried’s poster distribution company.

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