Psychedelic Art Essay

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Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era Whitney Museum of American Art. Take the ark-master Sun Ra, the musician who in the late sixties was journeying into ornately funky, freaky-deaky sonic dimensions.Or the late, great psychedelic alchemist trip-master Terence Mc Kenna, who rhapsodized about magic mushrooms, the collective over soul, gathering eminences, star ships, microbial creatures, membranes of inexplicable love, transcendental dramas, and birthing the self. Moreover, Sharp’s semi-Gothic, neo-Art Nouveau style was the very epitome of psychedelic aesthetics. Contrast Mc Namara’s remarks to those made in May of 2010 by Obama’s Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who said; “We’re not leaving Afghanistan prematurely, in fact, we’re not ever leaving at all.” An anthropomorphized kangaroo figure holding a boomerang is depicted in the upper left corner of the poster; the caricature is of John Gorton, the pro-Vietnam war Prime Minister of Australia who governed from January 1968 to March 1971. The philosophy that was acted out there is perhaps best expressed in a quotation by a musician who performed at the momentous happening, Richie Havens: “Woodstock was not about sex, drugs, and rock & roll. His acerbic but fanciful caricatures were drawn with detailed though fluid pen lines, and when combined with vibrant fluorescent orange and black ink, an eye-popping visual was achieved. could win the war militarily, by May 1967 Mc Namara informed LBJ that the war was “becoming increasingly unpopular as it escalates - causing more American casualties, more fear of its growing into a wider war, more privation of the domestic sector, and more distress at the amount of suffering being visited on the noncombatants in Vietnam, South and North.” Six months later LBJ would remove Mc Namara from his post. The event however had enormous impact that reached far beyond those who came together on Yasgur’s farm.No Blue Meanies “purged” this idiom from the art-history books because no self-respecting fine artist would claim to be a “psychedelic artist.” All artists instinctively understand that if a work of art is irrevocably of its own time and expresses only one thing very narrowly, it won’t be able to express anything else to any other time.Art like this, like a lot of the stuff in “Summer of Love,” is dead on arrival.I liked that “Motorcycle” traced the formal development of a single sexy industrial type. Of course, being neither stoned nor beautiful isn’t any reason to get medieval on “Summer of Love’s” ass.It’s a summer show, after all, and it does look into a picturesque aesthetic that exerts an influence on the current moment.For starters, it may be the whitest, straightest, most conservative show seen in a New York museum since psychedelia was new.Forget “different strokes for different folks”; there are few dashikis or Asian faces, many of the women pictured are semi-naked ornaments, and the culture displayed is scarily homogenous, all shiny happy white kids in America and England.


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