Robert Altman captured stars, hippies on film
By Sandy Tomcho
Posted: September 25, 2009
BETHEL The 40-year anniversary weekend of Woodstock may be history,
but that doesn't mean celebrating the 1960s has to be.
The Special Exhibits Gallery at The Museum at Bethel Woods Center for
the Arts is opening "Robert Altman's Sixties: Portrait of a
Generation" on Friday.
Altman is an internationally known photographer who worked for
Rolling Stone magazine and studied under Ansel Adams. On display will
be 119 large-format photos that show the world through his eyes from 1966-75.
"The photos are the '60s, and they were chosen from several aspects
of the counterculture or the culture at the time which would
include the people themselves, the flower children, the hippies,
really just the young generation with a different approach to life,"
"They dressed colorfully, grew their hair, so there is a focus on the
people themselves." He also included what he called the "movers and
shakers" of the time.
"There's spiritual leaders and a little not too heavy on the
anti-war movement. And then there's the music icons: Jim Morrison,
Janis Joplin, Jerry Garcia."
Altman was in his 20s at the time, which he said was a very
influential period for him. "I was a young fellow, somewhat
impressionable, and it was phenomenal," he said.
"It was like having the biggest club in the world and you were a
member. We had the feeling of family because we were kind of
cast-outs, to some degree, by our families and ... the establishment,
and we had each other. That time was like no other time, ever."
Altman knew at the time the importance of his work, but didn't really
grasp its future impact.
"I did get recognition at the time that I was very good at
photojournalism. But it's almost like, who wants yesterday's papers?
Once a photo is published, you moved on," Altman said.
"It took a certain amount of aging maybe 25 years for that stuff
to become vintage and revered. I'm so thrilled to be alive now and
see that there's a claim and people appreciate this photography and
that 100 years from now this will be a great addition to the
historical story of what happened."