Art of the Psychedelic Era
Tate Liverpool, Albert Dock, May 27th - September 25th 2005
Admission £5, £4 conc.
Tate Liverpool’s Summer of Love exhibition explores an entire era
of exceptional political and cultural change, spanning over a decade from
the 1960’s to the early seventies. Focusing on one particular aspect,
the ‘psychedelic’ and its diverse creative potential, the
Tate offers an assortment of work from posters, record covers, books and
magazines, films and installations, spread over two floors. The exhibition
covers all aspects of visual culture, produced and strongly influenced
by experimentation with the mind-altering effect of drugs, notably marijuana
and the hallucinogenic LSD.
Entering the exhibition through a black and white tunnel, you are led
into a room teeming with original advertising posters featuring bold,
fluorescent colours, intensely detailed and written in barely legible
typefaces. The next section is divided into geographical areas: San Francisco
and West Coast, New York and the East Cost and London and Liverpool, with
each individual area accompanied by a timeline placing the display in
its cultural and historical context.
These rooms are filled with memorabilia of the time: press cuttings,
photographs, posters, and album covers of every conceivable popular music
icon of the time from the Rolling Stones and the Beatles to Pink Floyd.
There is an abundance of original literature including work produced by
the emerging ‘underground’ magazines, all of which is interspersed
with original film footage.
Film, video and multimedia installations feature widely in this exhibition.
Light shows, psychedelic films and interactive installations such as Peter
Sedgley’s ultraviolet discs, Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored
Room Lover Forever and Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable and
The Velvet Underground, combine a frenzy of vibrant colours, abstract
shapes and interchanging images, created to challenge and stretch the
human perceptual capacity.
Impacting on all aspects of popular culture at the time, the psychedelic
is clearly evident in the fields of art, film, fashion, design and music.
For me, Janis Joplin’s hand painted Porsche epitomises the excessively
creative and over-the-top style, which has become indicative of this art
and this period, making Summer of Love a must see.