press release


The emergence and flowering of psychedelic art coincided with one of the most revolutionary and tumultuous periods of the twentieth century. Forty years after the legendary summer of 1967, the Whitney Museum of American Art revisits the period with Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era, an exhibition tracing the explosion of contemporary art and popular culture that was brought about by the civil unrest and pervasive social change of the 1960s and early 70s. Opening in May 2007, the exhibition celebrates a new psychedelic aesthetic that emerged in art, music, film, architecture, graphic design, and fashion. Curated by Christoph Grunenberg at Tate Liverpool and originally presented there, the show has toured to the Kunsthalle Schirn Frankfurt and the Kunsthalle Wien. The installation at the Whitney, which is the only showing of the exhibition in the United States, is being overseen by assistant curator Henriette Huldisch.

Psychedelic art, distinguished by its use of exuberant color, ornamental forms, and formally complex, obsessively detailed compositions, represented expanded or altered states of consciousness induced by music, light, meditation, and hallucinogenic drugs. In recent years, art of the psychedelic era has experienced an unprecedented revival and captured again the imaginations of contemporary artists, designers, and filmmakers. Summer of Love reconstructs the original creative impulse and utopian ambitions of psychedelia and locates it within the wider cultural and political context of counterculture and the civil rights movement, the Cold War and the Vietnam War. The exhibition demonstrates how the psychedelic aesthetic permeated many aspects of popular culture and how artists, immersed in countercultural activity, fluidly crossed the boundaries between disciplines, genres, and media.

Summer of Love features paintings, photographs and sculptures by Isaac Abrams, Richard Avedon, Lynda Benglis, Richard Hamilton, Jimi Hendrix, Robert Indiana, Yayoi Kusama, Richard Lindner, John McCracken, and Andy Warhol, among others, as well as a rich selection of important posters, album covers and underground magazines. A special emphasis is placed on film, video, and multimedia environments, replicating the immersive experience of psychedelic light shows and performances, and including works by Jordan Belson, Stan VanDerBeek, James Whitney, and Lamonte Young and Marian Zazeela. Also shown are a multiple projection installation of the Boyle Family’s films, first used in light shows for the psychedelic band The Soft Machine, and a liquid crystal projection by Gustav Metzger. Major environments include Mati Klarwein’s New Aleph Sanctuary 1963-71, which brings together many of his motifs (which he also used in his designs for Santana album covers) in a spectacular installation, and Vernon Panton’s brightly-colored crawl-in furniture landscape.

The art in the exhibition is contextualized through a wealth of documentary material, highlighting events, people and places in three centers of countercultural activity: San Francisco, New York, and London. The sections include photographs, films of protests and concerts, light shows, as well as events at places such as the UFO nightclub in London, the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, and the Human Be-In in that city's Golden Gate Park, featuring Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary. The underground press, emerging during the 1960s as an instrument of alternative communication and democratization, is represented through Oz magazine, International Times, East Village Other, and The San Francisco Oracle, along with many other publications and documents. Providing a vivid picture of a period in fundamental moral and political upheaval, they are also testament to an extraordinary burst of creativity that revolutionized the visual vocabulary of graphic design.

Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era. An exhibition organized by Tate Liverpool Support for this exhibition is provided by Steve Tisch, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Pittman and The Juliet Lea Hillman Simonds Foundation.

Art of the Psychedelic Era

mit Isaac Abrams, Christian Ludwig Attersee, Archigram , Richard Avedon, Lynda Benglis, Mark Boyle, Boyle Family, Bernard Cohen, Deep Purple, Padhi Frieberger, Ernst Fuchs, Allen Ginsberg, Richard Hamilton, Coop Himmelb(l)au, Hans Hollein, Haus Rucker & Co, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Robert Indiana, Lawrence Jordan, Mati Klarwein, Yayoi Kusama, Timothy Leary, Richard Lindner, John McCracken, Hans Hollein, Haus Rucker & Co, Gustav Metzger, Nam June Paik, Verner Panton, Max Peintner, Walter Pichler, Ken Kesey, Arnulf Rainer, Alfons Schilling, Christian Skrein, Velvet Underground, Stan Vanderbeek, Andy Warhol, James Whitney, Jud Yalkut, La Monte Young, Zünd Up ...

24.05.07 - 16.09.07 Whitney Museum, New York
12.05.06 - 03.09.06 Kunsthalle Wien
02.11.05 - 12.02.06 Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt
27.05.05 - 25.09.05 Tate Liverpool