The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) presents “It’s Alive!” Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Art from the Kirk Hammett Collection, an exhibition of graphic art thathas seeped into the public imagination and reflected society’s deepest fears and anxieties for nearly a century. Best known as lead guitarist of the famed rock band Metallica, Kirk Hammett is also an obsessive collector of visually arresting horror and sci-fi film art and has dedicated the last three decades to creating one of the world’s most important collections. Hammett credits his collection as a primary source for his own sonic creativity, reflecting, “the stuff of horror has a mojo that always works on me. I start producing ideas. They just flow like liquid.”
“It’s Alive!” -- on view at PEM August 12 through November 26 -- explores the interplay of creativity, emotion and popular culture through 135 works from 20th-century cinema, including posters by an international array of graphic designers, rare works by unidentified masters as well as related memorabilia such as electric guitars, lobby cards, film props and costumes. Originally designed as ephemeral works, many of the artworks on view are exceedingly rare or even singular in nature. Celebrating the graphic artistry of these posters, the exhibition also delves into the cultural meaning of horror and sci-fi films and the scientific underpinning of fear.