Purple Haze

In the 1960’s, the style of Art Nouveau from the earlier 1900’s came back into style, with paisley patterns, swirls, and erotic imagery. Geometric patterns were generally out of the question, with people beginning to think more freely and moving on from mourning of the death and peril caused. The lecturer of the keynote explored her theory of how art nouveau artists had addressed and influenced artists and designers in the 1960s to create new posters and promotional material for music, fashion and propaganda.

To evidence her theory, she analysed the album cover for Revolver by The Beatles. The album cover was designed by Klaus Voormann and released in August 1966 across the globe. What drew us closer into the theory behind this were the many styles and influences that Voormann drew into the album cover. He had needed to conduct research into his practice to create this style of design for the cover.

Alphonse Mucha, born in 1860, Czech Republic, influenced many designers and artists heavily in the creation of new design and art work. His work was very nature inspired, with intertwining of humans and nature. He blurred the boundaries between different elements of his pieces and teased at notions of the nude form to create erotic, psychedelic and God-like pieces of work. These motifs symbolised sex, which was a ‘key subject of psychological and spiritual investigation’ (Wood and Greenhalgh, 2000, pg 82).

William Morris was another key influence of psychedelic art and design in the 1960s. His patterns were designed in the style of a paisley pattern, with nature inspired motifs recurring, similarly to the natural patterns produced in Mucha’s work. Morris’s patterns were designed for domestic wear on furniture, rugs and wallpapers.

Aubrey Beardsley was of extreme influence to designers and artists in the 1960s, and especially the album cover designed by Voormann. Similar to Mucha’s work, the images of women which were made in his work were very graphic and sexual. Sexual experimentation was stated through this imagery, and was taken forward with younger people in the 1960s, to experiment with drugs and sex.

The style of Beardsley’s work was modified for new designs and styles which were then used in gig posters. Merged with paisley patterns, the idea of the psychedelic art that was created was the visual notion of seeing more than one perspective and the effects of the consumption of drugs through whichever means possible.

The lecturer also looked at the style of clothing that Jimi Hendrix wore. He tried to create a ‘new style’ of fashion by taking art nouveau into the patterns he wore. Although Art Nouveau was a strong influence for artists and designers in the 1960s, other styles from different cultures at the time were also incorporated into creating new styles.

Hendrix often wore vintage and unique clothing that you would occasionally have found in charity shops and vintage stores in the street. Military jackets, velvet trousers, and other various patterned items of clothing were worn. Because Hendrix and other popular money makers were travelling the world, styles from cultures across the Middle East and Asia were incorporated into these new styles. This is called cross-pollination blending. This challenged contemporary political agendas and was a form of response to the Vietnam war and governments. It was safer to express opinions visually than verbally at the time as abstract art could be created to have the viewer come up with new interpretations and meanings in art and design.

As far as my practice is concerned, from receiving this new knowledge, I will now improve my work in the future by conducting  research into different styles, trends and cultures and traditions to build a new style and body of work. This would make my work far more interesting by taking influence from past styles.

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Author: jennifertaylorgraphics

First year student studying Graphic Communication at the Cardiff School of Art and Design

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