Tomorrow the Victoria and Albert Museum will open a new exhibition called "You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels."
The show will feature album covers, pop art, poster designs, photography, fashion, and film from the watershed period of 1966-1970.
|Jim Gurney in eighth grade art class (link to blog post)|
But I didn't realize at the time how much those visual innovations owed to revivals of earlier styles. Artists are magnets for visual ideas, and we were inspired by books on Alphonse Mucha, the lettering guides from the Golden Age of Penmanship, and the comics and animation from the 1930s. All these influences took some effort to locate—you had to dig through used bookstores or explore the stacks in libraries—but they were out there.
It may appear that these eras of innovation were merely a rejection of the past, brought about by revolutionary geniuses of the moment such as the Beatles, Andy Warhol, or Bob Dylan. The 1960s did represent a break from the past, but the new ideas grew from the DNA of earlier art forms. In fact all of those great artists—McCartney, Lennon, Warhol, and Dylan—were profound students of earlier styles, and were interested in other art forms outside their main area of expertise, such as film, and animation.
I think we're living in a similar time of revolutionary thought in art and culture, brought about by the access to new ideas via the Internet, but the innovators recognized by future art historians will be those whose roots go deep into the soil of the past, not those who only follow the big names of the present moment.
You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels."