The counterculture that emerged in the United States in the 1960s had a strong impact not only on popular culture, but also on different branches of the fine arts. Thomas Crow’s new book The Artist in the Counterculture explores how these different currents interconnected in California from the 1960’s to the 1980’s.
In another sign of convergence, Alex and Allyson Grey, two longtime practitioners of psychedelic and spiritual art, have just now opened the impressive Entheon Sanctuary of Visionary Art in Wappinger Falls just a few miles north of Dia, a revered fine arts sanctuary in Beacon, NY.
Gallery 98’s specialization is in art ephemera connected with galleries and museums, but it is no surprise that many counterculture items have over the years slipped into our collections. This week’s newsletter spotlights some of our most interesting counterculture material. Each touches on leading personalities, events and trends growing out of the largely male-led counterculture of the 1960s.
For more items visit Gallery 98’s special Counterculture page.
Jimi Hendrix—Bill Graham’s Fillmore East—1968
Size: 4.5 x 6.75 inches
Bill Graham launched a new era in music when he took over the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco in 1966, and then opened the Fillmore East in New York in 1968. A new psychedelic art style accompanied the new music. This postcard promotion for a concert by Jimi Hendrix is by Fantasy Unlimited, a short-lived New York art collective founded in 1967 by Peter Nevard and David Edward Byrd.
Woodstock Music Festival—The East Village Other—1969
Today the Woodstock music festival has come to symbolize the music revolution and lifestyle changes associated with 1960s counterculture. Here The East Village Other, one of the first underground newspapers, spotlights this now legendary event. Surprisingly, despite the popularity of this issue, the artist who created the psychedelic map on it’s cover has not been identified.
Eldridge Cleaver—The Black Panther Party—1968
Size: 8 x 8 inches
The Black Panthers founded in Oakland California in 1966 initiated a more confrontational phase in the civil rights struggle. Over the next years many Panther leaders like Minister of Information, Eldridge Cleaver (1935–1998), found themselves targeted by the police and FBI.
Bobby Seale—The Trial of The Chicago Eight—1969
The image of Bobby Seale (born 1936) bound and gagged is the most enduring visual from the trial of the Chicago 8, the arrested leaders of the demonstrations that disrupted the Chicago Democratic Convention in 1968. The legal case against Seale, a co-founder of the Black Panthers, was soon severed from that of the other defendants turning the Chicago 8 into the Chicago 7.
Abbie Hoffman—Yippies—Chicago Seven—1968
Size: 5.5 x 8.5 inches
Abbie Hoffman (1936–1989) was a co-founder of the Yippies and a master of a new form of political protest specifically designed to attract media attention. It was a sign of Hoffman’s growing celebrity that Richard Avedon photographed him in 1968, soon after the chaos of the Chicago demonstrations, but before the Chicago 7 trial. Avedon later shot a large group portrait of all seven defendants.
Size: 4 x 6 inches
Allen Ginsberg’s (1926–1997) poem Howl (1955) helped spark the Beat Generation literary movement. The poem received more attention in 1959 when Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the publisher of Howl, was put on trial for distributing obscenity. This postcard promotes a 2010 film about the poem that features James Franco as Allen Ginsberg.
Gordon Ball (Photographer), Allen Ginsberg and Howl, Two Cards, City Lights Books (1996) & Muscarelle Museum (2004)
Size: 4 x 6 inches
Like Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (1957), Howl would come to symbolize how the counterculture of the Beats became mainstream.
Tuli Kupferberg—Provacateur and Fug—1967
Tuli Kupferberg, 1001 Ways to Live Without Working: A Standard of Laziness, Book, Published by Groove Press, 1967
Size: 4.25 x 7 inches
Tuli Kupferberg (1923–2010) is best known as a member of the Fugs, a deliberately lewd and confrontational rock band founded by East Village poets in 1964. Over the next decades Kupferberg published numerous broadsides, books and articles incorporating the same off-color comedy and provocative politics that characterized the Fugs. You might also appreciate this collection of Kupferberg items.
Alex Grey—The 8th Annual Cannabis Cup—1996
Size: 2 x 2 inches
Marijuana, an important part of the counterculture, got its own periodical when Tom Forcade (1945–1978) founded High Times in 1974. The Cannabis Cup, an award ceremony honoring the best marijuana strains, was the creation of Steven Hager who edited the magazine starting in 1988. Each year Hager would hire a top artist like Alex Grey to design the Cannabis Cup poster and related items like this matchbook.
See more works at Gallery 98’s special Counterculture Page.