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  • If someone were to show you these album covers, or these posters...

  • Even if you've never heard of the bands featured,

  • you'd probably be able to guess what kind of music they play.

  • This style has become synonymous with the psychedelic '60s.

  • But these abstract forms, and curly, barely legible lettering

  • they weren't created in the 1960s.

  • They came from a celebrated art movementone that started almost a century earlier.

  • In the late 1800s, new technologyelectrical power, telephones, cars

  • was changing the way the world worked. And the way it looked.

  • And some people, especially artists, living through this technological revolution were...

  • not so into all the new industry. To be blunt, they thought it was ugly.

  • Out of this conflict, a new global artistic movement was born

  • One that went by many different names.

  • Like the Secessionists in Austria and the Glasgow school in Scotland.

  • But you might know it as: Art Nouveau, which literally meansnew artin French.

  • Its creators wanted to make art that reflected the vibrancy of city life.

  • They used flat, decorative patterns,

  • feminine figures, and organic and plant motifs,

  • often stylized with fluid, abstract forms. And they applied this new visual language

  • to just about everything - from architecture to paintings to textiles and beyond.

  • Because they believed that aesthetics should go hand in hand with utility.

  • And no object was too mundane to be beautiful.

  • Like this entrance to the Paris subway.

  • Or these posters by Alphonse Mucha - advertising champagne and biscuits which are just as much about

  • being beautiful as they are about conveying information.

  • Okay, back to the hippies.

  • Like the late 1800s, the 1960s were a time of cultural upheaval.

  • ARCHIVE: “The Vietnam struggle goes onARCHIVE: “We want the Beatles

  • ARCHIVE: “The Beatles everybodyIn the US, the epicenter of this change was

  • San Francisco, where hundreds of thousands of young people descended upon the city.

  • For things like protests, and drum circles,

  • and of course, concerts.

  • Lots and lots and lots of concerts.

  • Particularly dance concerts, featuring trippy, psychedelic music

  • from bands like Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead.

  • And there was one major way to get people to come to your concert:

  • A good poster.

  • Back then, these now iconic bands were just starting out, playing back to back shows at

  • venues like the Fillmore and the Avalon And to advertise this new generation of hippie

  • bands, those venues knew that plain typeface and a grayscale photo just wasn't going

  • to cut it.

  • So they commissioned work from a small group of artists, who developed a brand-new formula

  • for concert posters.

  • One that pulled from a variety of established design traditions - comic books, surrealism,

  • and, of course, art nouveau.

  • By the mid-60s, art nouveau was already experiencing a bit of a resurgence.

  • Especially when it came to textiles - dynamic, floral designs were a natural fit for the

  • hippie aesthetic.

  • Which is probably why in 1965, a museum just outside of San Francisco launched this exhibit.

  • Legend says this is where some of those designers were first exposed to Art Nouveau.

  • One designer, Wes Wilson, told Time Magazine that he admired theiridea of really putting

  • it out there.”

  • And when they started making new concert posters, these designers took those art nouveau staples

  • and turned the dial up.

  • Art nouveau is famous for its feminine figures - most often nude, with flowing hair, and

  • a “come hitherglance.

  • A style the psychedelic designers clearly picked up on.

  • Look at the way these posters are covered edge to edge with detailed, two dimensional

  • illustrations.

  • Particularly flowers, and abstract curves,

  • And, also peacocks - that's an art nouveau thing, too.

  • Theyloved peacocks And sometimes, psychedelic designers would

  • use images pulled directly from an art nouveau posterbut always with a radically different

  • color palette.

  • Instead of art nouveau's soft pastels.

  • psychedelic artists opted for intense, high-contrast colors,

  • said to make your eyesvibrate”; a reference to thevisual experiences of

  • an LSD tripper.”

  • And that curly, cloudy, barely legible font?

  • It started hereon a 1902 poster by Austrian designer Alfred Roller.

  • In the 60s, artists adapted the bold, dynamic typeface and pushed it even further - softening

  • its lines and obscuring its edges.

  • Making it nearly illegible.

  • Which served a purpose.

  • It was meant to grab your attention and keep you interested - at least for as long as it

  • took to figure out what the poster was trying to tell you.

  • The result was a ton of posters that looked like art nouveau on acid.

  • As the music of San Francisco spread throughout the world,

  • so did the aesthetic.

  • In part because posters are easy to own and reproduce and collect.

  • With fans sometimes tearing them down immediately after they were put up.

  • The artists behind them even became celebrities in their own right - a few of them got their

  • own spread in Life Magazine.

  • The posters they madetheir vibrating colors and winding linescapture the energy

  • of the 1960s.

  • Just like the art nouveau ones represent the late 1800s.

  • And while these two time periods don't mirror each other perfectly,

  • both movements were able to create something that captured the feeling of a changing world.

  • And their art reflected that.

If someone were to show you these album covers, or these posters...

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B2 Vox nouveau art psychedelic poster archive

Where the 1960s "psychedelic" look came from

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/08/18
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