Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia
This Walker-organized exhibition, assembled with the assistance of the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, examines the intersections of art, architecture, and design with the counterculture of the 1960s and early 1970s. A time of great upheaval, this period witnessed a variety of radical experiments that challenged societal and professional expectations, overturned traditional hierarchies, explored new media and materials, and formed alternative communities and new ways of living and working together. During this key moment, many artists, architects, and designers individually and collectively began a search for a new kind of utopia, whether technological, ecological, or political, and with it offered a critique of the existing society.
Loosely organized around Timothy Leary’s famous mantra, “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out,” the exhibition charts the evolution of the period, from pharmacological, technological, and spiritual means to expand consciousness and alter one’s perception of reality, to the foment of a publishing revolution that sought to create new networks of like-minded people and raise popular awareness to some of the era’s greatest social and political struggles, to new ways of refusing mainstream society in favor of ecological awareness, the democratization of tools and technologies, and a more communal survival.
Presenting a broad range of art forms and artifacts of the era, Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia features experimental furniture, alternative living structures, immersive and participatory media environments, alternative publishing and ephemera, and experimental film. Bringing into dramatic relief the limits of Western society’s progress, the exhibition explores one of the most vibrant and inventive periods of the not-too-distant past, one that still resonates within culture today.
Curator: Andrew Blauvelt
Curatorial Fellow: Jordan Carter
Curatorial Research Assistant: Anna Renken
The catalogue accompanying Hippie Modernism examines the art, architecture, and design of the counterculture of the 1960s and early 1970s. In the substantial volume, scholars explore a range of practices such as radical architectural and anti-design movements emerging in Europe and North America; the print revolution in the graphic design of books, posters, and magazines; and new forms of cultural practice that merged street theater and radical politics. (Read curator Andrew Blauvelt’s chapter on “Aesthetic Radicalism and Counterculture” online.)
Through a profusion of illustrations, interviews with figures including Gerd Stern and Michael Callahan of USCO, Günter Zamp Kelp of Haus-Rucker-Co, Ken Isaacs, Ron Williams and Woody Rainey of ONYX, Franco Raggi of Global Tools, Tony Martin, Clark Richert and Richard Kallweit of Drop City, and new scholarly writings, this book explores the conjunction of the countercultural ethos and the modernist desire to fuse art and life. Edited by Andrew Blauvelt. Essays by Blauvelt, Greg Castillo, Esther Choi, Alison Clarke, Hugh Dubberly and Paul Pangaro, Ross Elfline, Craig Peariso, Tina Rivers Ryan, Catharine Rossi, Simon Sadler, Felicity Scott, and Lorraine Wild and David Karwan. Interviews by Adam Gildar, Susan Snodgrass, and Liz Glass. Available in the Walker Shop.
Cranbrook Art Museum, June 19–October 9, 2016
University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, February 8–May 21, 2017