The Psychedelic 60s: Posters from the Rock Era
TOLEDO, OH.- Of all the visual art produced in the late 1960s, the
most influential may be San Francisco psychedelic concert posters.
Many are instantly recognizable because of their innovative use of
text, psychedelic colors and coded messages. Not only do the posters
visually define the period, but they also have shaped graphic design
This summer the Toledo Museum of Art is spotlighting these
influential posters in a special exhibition. Some 150 posters from
The Houston Freeburg Collection are being shown in The Psychedelic
60s: Posters From the Rock Era in the Museum's Canaday Gallery from
June 11 through Sept. 12.
The highly collectible posters will rock the memories of many baby
boomers while introducing newer generations to American popular
culture symbols from the era of acid rock, free love and war protests.
Influenced by the surrealist, art nouveau, pop and op art movements,
the artists include the legendary Wes Wilson, "father" of the 1960s'
rock poster movement; giants Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelly, whose
work is strongly tied to the custom car and hot rod movement; Victor
Moscoso, creator of the logo for the Family Dog, a collective that
sponsored some of the earliest psychedelic concerts; Bonnie MacLean,
wife of Fillmore concert promoter Bill Graham; Detroit graphic
designer David Singer, and Lee Conklin, who made more than 30 posters
to promote acts at the Fillmore.
Of special note are 50 posters with fluorescent or phosphorescent
colors that glow in the dark and represent the height of black light
design. The themes often relate to the racial, sexual, political,
feminist and drug issues then whirling through American society.
"Certainly there is a popular appeal to this exhibition, but there
also is real art historical substance as well," says Amy Gilman, the
Museum's associate curator of contemporary and modern art. "These
artists and their work had a very profound influence on graphic
design and actually all print media since that time," she contends.
In mounting the exhibition, the Museum has taken care to replicate
the atmosphere of the late sixties through sound, staging and
lighting, including the use of black light when appropriate, so
viewers become immersed in elements of the counter-culture the posters depict.
"There are many artists, many styles and a good range of bands,"
notes Gilman. "A lot of people did Jimi Hendrix posters, and you'll
see how different people had a different take on him. The black light
posters are really varied. Some have a handmade look, showing their
underground roots. The exhibition presents a great window on that
The musicians who played at the Avalon Ballroom, the Fillmore East
and West and other venues are recognizable, too: Jimi Hendrix, the
Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, the Byrds, Fleetwood Mac, Cream, Big
Brother & the Holding Company, Joan Baez and others.