Art & Design

You Say You Want a Revolution? New 1960s Exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum


Words by Charles Bliss

Splattered in tye-dye and DayGlo colours, the new exhibition at the V&A poses the question: How have the finished and unfinished revolutions of the 1960s changed the way we live today and think about the future? Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, a wander through these rooms represents a intellectual and artistic exploration of the revolutionary spirit of the ‘60s through music, fashion, film, design and political activism. Its title: You Say You Want a Revolution? Rebels and Records 1966-1970.

This exhibition navigates the kind of cultural landscape heavily influenced by such figures as the Beatles, Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Roy Lichtenstein, John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, and Martin Luther King Jr., to name but a few icons from this tumultuous period. It details the mass-consumed pop culture through to the avant-garde, the psychedelic highs of the 1960s and the conservative lows of the 1970s.

‘Can You Pass the Acid Test?’ Poster

Utilizing archives and artefacts as diverse and infamous as posters from Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests (as documented in Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test), legendary video-audio performances recorded at the Woodstock Festival, and the Beatle’s handwritten lyrics and Sgt. Pepper outfits, this promises to be major exhibition the likes of which London has never seen before. The rampant Pop Art of the 1960s is also featured with such items as Campbell’s Warhol-inspired Souper Dress. More than 200 LPs from John Peel’s record collection are also exhibited, where visitors can wear headphones to delve into the musical lifeblood that pulsed into the ideologies of society and formed the inspiration for cultural and political progression.

This curation seeks to ride the waves of cultural, social and intellectual change which affected the political discourse of the latter half of this decade, exemplified by visions of protest the West had never seen before, such as Ghandi-inspired peaceful protests utilized by Martin Luther King Jr., Flower Power and the Hippie Movement. The idealism and aura of positivity arising from these movements is documented as it slowly morphs into the eventual aftermath of the 1970s, with the decline of the ‘60s and all it represented by the tragedies at the Altamont music festival with the Rolling Stones and Hells Angels in 1969.

VLUU L100, M100 / Samsung L100, M100
‘Souper’ Dress by Campbell’s Soups

The team behind this exhibition also produced the immensely popular David Bowie exhibition and so is bound to be in high demand, with advance booking online or by telephone is strongly recommended by the museum and the exhibition’s organisers. The director of the V&A, Martin Roth, has said: “This seminal exhibition will shed new light on the wide-reaching social, cultural and intellectual changes of the late 1960s that followed the austerity of the postwar years, not just in the UK, but throughout the western world.”

On now until the 26th February 2017.

£16.00 per person

Advance booking is recommended.