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The Art of the Music Poster of the 60s and 70s


The sights and sounds of the 60s and 70s are coming to Altoona with the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Altoona's latest exhibition, The Art of the Music Poster of the 60s and 70s. The exhibition, which runs May 2 through July 20, 2003, features more than 60 posters from the Museum's Mark del Costello collection of 426 offset lithograph and other paper ephemera.

The exhibition is a little bit punk, a little bit psychedelic, and a whole lot rock and roll. From Hall of Fame punkers the Ramones to quintessential avant-garde musicians Pink Floyd, the Museum's collection includes some of the finest examples of poster art ever to grace concert halls or bedroom walls.

To celebrate the collection, the Museum will host a reception from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 16. Included in the reception is an exhibition tour by SAMA-Altoona Site Coordinator, Buzz Evers. Live period music and a special dance performance by Allied Motion of Altoona also will be featured. Cost is $7 for Museum members and $10 for non-members. Reservations are required by May 13 and can be made by calling (814) 946-4464. (right: Gerald Scarfe, Pink Floyd, The Wall, © 1979 Pink Floyd Music Ltd.)

The Art of the Music Poster of the 60s and 70s is an exhibition that includes posters of such musical icons as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Marley, Kiss, The Who, Rod Stewart, Elvis, Jimi Hendrix and The Clash. One influential and world-famous work in the exhibition is Milton Glaser's famous image of folk singer Bob Dylan. In the poster Dylan (1966), the folk rock legend is shown in black silhouette with brightly colored hair, in patterns inspired by Islamic designs. The image became a graphic arts icon for a generation. The posters of the 60s and 70s brought fine art, music and commerce together.

"The music posters from our Mark del Costello collection are visually thrilling and, for many of us, nostalgic of a time past," said Dr. Graziella Marchicelli, SAMA Fine Arts Curator. "Yet, even today their sophistication and beauty speaks to a brand new audience, and their artistic and cultural importance is priceless."

Rock music's most distinctive and enduring images were created by young graphic artists residing in the San Francisco Bay area during the counterculture movement of the mid 60s. San Francisco's thriving music scene was propelled in large part by two clubs, the Fillmore Auditorium and the Avalon Ballroom. Both clubs booked local bands, like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, and held concerts nearly every night. Local artists, such as Stanley Mouse, Alton Kelley, Rick Griffin, Wes Wilson and Victor Moscoso, were commissioned to create concert posters. Their works are stylistically diverse and inspired by a wide range of art movements: Art Nouveau, Jugendstil, Viennese Secessionism and Surrealism, among others. They also were influenced by 19th century Victorian advertising motifs. More importantly, their posters epitomized the Bay area's spirit by incorporating contemporary countercultural imagery: LSD trips, long hair, bright and colorful clothing, joints, and patterns and colors displayed in light shows. The artists attempted to capture the aural and visual experience of "acid test parties" and concerts. Victor Moscoso said, "I would just turn the color up as high as I could so I would blind you." (right: Philip Chiang, Rod Dyer, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Europe, 1974, 1974)

By the 1970s, the psychedelic scene had given way to a new wave of rock and roll. Pop music splintered into a multitude of styles: soft rock, hard rock, country rock, folk rock, disco, punk, heavy metal and "shock rock." Likewise, the music posters of the 70s sported an array of influences and styles. Artist Jean-Michel Folon based his style on simple drawings, strong clear symbols and soft colors. Folon often conveyed the loneliness of modern life, as exemplified in the poster Duke (1979) for the British group Genesis. Tadanori Yokoo's poster art, which included album covers such as Santana's Amigos (1976), won him international recognition. Yokoo's posters exude a vibrant kinetic energy with fluorescent colors and montages of figures taken from both Eastern and Western culture. Rock and roll music posters of the 60s and 70s are very much a product of their time, revealing the exuberance that swept through popular culture and the graphic arts.

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