Keynotes: 02/02

Purple haze: channelling Art Nouveau with 60’s Psychedelia

  • past never stays in the pst, will always re-surface
    • fragments and traces from the past belong in the past, can be woven into the fabrics of a new story to illuminate – Evans, 2003, p13

Historical framing of your practice:

  • fragments/traces referenced in a contemporary work from the past?
  • what creative/social/political ideology
  • how have you used those fragments in your work?

2 Case studies:

1. The Beatles album cover: The Revolver

  • key motive in the 60’s psychedelia
  • the beatles emerging out of their heads; illustrative

2. Jimmy Hendrix

  • clothing – visual motives of 60’s psychedelia
  • experimental

“The true revolution of the sixties,.. was the revolution in the head” – Macdonalds

Art Nouveau – 1890-early war

  • design movement, design of the century
  • style in visual arts was powerful presence in Europe and north America
  • not hot in geometry – twisty, natural shapes, swirls
  • replicating nature
  • no straight angles
  • motives of woman always link to nature in design
  • Willian Morris
  • “human into the inhuman and organic into the inorganic” – Greenhalgh
  • where does she finish and background start?
  • sex and sexuality – human and nature, sex is natural – in tune with nature
    • ‘sex will transform you’
  • evoked the rhetoric of freedom and subversion – marking ‘cool’

Anti-establishment values resurfaced in the 60’s…

John Lennon:

  • bought a rolls royce – symbol of upper class, authority, masculine
  • working class Lennon bought it and had it painted
  • paints belonging in the Art Nouveau period
  • ‘trashed’ rolls royce – he reworked it
  • people outraged

Historical traces in the 60’s:

  • Aubrey Beardsley (man)
    • 1966, recognised as a respected illustrator
    • encapsulated Nouveau’s designs
    • nature and human merged together
    • his work was anti-establishment
      • models of overt sexuality, sexual ambiguity and self-proclaiming – as was in Nouveau period; 60’s – sexual experiment
  • Alice in Wonderland
    • drug taking; girl going into unknown world – resurfaced in world of Nouveau
  • Revolver cover: inspired by Beardsley
    • a lot of inspiration in 60’s gig posters
  • Typography in mid 60’s
    • have to keep looking, go beyond the obvious – seeing more than on perspective
  • Graphic Design:psychedelic patterns
    • anti-establishment form of expression
  • Society’s going mad, lets go back to Nouveau

“ease of communication was sacrificed for a visual representation of experience of the rock concert itself” – (Miles, 2016: 108)

Art Nouveau stylistic legacy:

  • motif of fusing things
  • meltdown of forms and combine
  • reconfiguration of the past


  • changing the suit: male dandy
  • wore established military wear with velvet
    • seen as shocking, disrespectful

The past can be liberating for you

  • creative possibilities, using imagination to make new designs, new looks, originality
  • new hybrid forms, don’t conform to design traditions
    • cross pollination: hybrid of lots of different designs taken from the past
  • the past can be interpreted and re-interpretted
  • consider historical differences and messages in design: “modifying and reconfiguring”

60’s psychedelia:

– challenged war and traditional attitudes

Nouveau designers:

– inspirational, nature vs industrialisation
– drugs for return to nature; sexual experimentation beyond norm of tradition

This resurfaced in the 60’s – keep with values in times: direct correlation; always expressed visually.



Author: ellenreiddesign

First year Graphic Communication student at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

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