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Session 10 : Revolution in the Head/Sixties Counterculture

Historical Context/The Rise of the Counterculture in the USA

America profited from the war.; soldiers came back from the war to a different world feeling like they didn't fit it. As a result, the 1950's saw the invention on the teenager, rather than children growing up to be their parents. Protest then came about due to the combination of liberal values, affluent, time-rich youth and conservative politics. New powerful youth began producing stuff for this new audience of hedonistic people, creating a whole new set of artists and designers. One example was though music; ground breaking packaging and posters were created to reach this market. Things were slightly different back in the UK, when the 'Swinging Sixties' was occurring, but it was still apparent that the content within art and design was starting to become more drug fuelled and sexually liberated. For the first time artists were designing for themselves and their own generation rather than for clients and corporations. This gave them a huge amount of freedom. However, eventually the world caught up and counter culture was shoaled back to the people who originated it, subduing into the mainstream.

Psychedelic Design of the 1960's Things produced initially were thought to be inspired by Art Nouveau but it is also clear that the artists were very heavily influenced by the likes of LCD, especially shown through uses of colour and type. One key figure is Bonnie MacLean, an American artist known for her classic rock posters from the 1960/70s. Her early work is considered to be quite heavily influenced by the work of Wes Wilson, one of the most leading artists of psychedelic art posters, after he quit working for the Fillmore Auditorium and she took over his job.

It is clear to see where MacLean look inspiration from Wilsons designs, from the brightly coloured illustrations to the contrasting swirly typography. The shapes of the letters are altered to fit around the imagery, giving off the effect of movement that psychedelic drugs gives. This almost illegible type is a huge technique used by both designers and the influence of art nouveau and pop art is also seen clearly in the contrasts of colour, catching the viewers eye and drawing them in further much like they are 'tripping out'.



Class Notes:



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