Type of Work
The Aquarian Tarot (1970) is a complete tarot deck published by Morgan Press, Inc., featuring the illustrations of Italian-born, New York artist David Palladini (1946-2019). This deck, one among many created and sold during the occult craze of the late 1960s and early 1970s, features 78 unique, hand-drawn illustrations. Palladini places beautifully rendered pencil drawings against black ink, bright washes and decorative patterning. The result is an exquisite embodiment of popular 1960s design styles, which embraces art historical references alongside New Age psychedelia. Palladini’s tarot cards recall images by his contemporaries, such as Milton Glaser (1929-2020), and unite the techniques of Art Nouveau with medieval imagery, placing this deck as a model for the historical resurgences of the era.
Born in 1946, Palladini moved to New York early in life and attended the Pratt Institute where he studied art, film and photography. He was a photographer for the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, and he designed lithographs for the International Film Festival that same year. In 1969, Palladini created a series of Zodiac posters before designing the cards for The Aquarian Tarot at the age of twenty-four. He embraced the fascination with the occult and mysticism popularized by youth culture at this time, often considered a rejection of traditional religious ideals. Publishing companies saw a vibrant market for books on mysticism, astrology and witchcraft. Production of tarot decks and ouija boards surged, generating a pop culture for the spiritual. Palladini’s interest in tarot would last for the remainder of his life, and he would go on to revisualize his deck, with its own personal guide, titled The New Palladini Tarot in 1997, and publish a book, Painting the Soul: The Tarot Art of David Palladini, in 2013.