60’s Poster Art

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The 1960s revolutionized the design, purpose, and collecting of posters, turning low-cost advertising products into decorative statements of one’s personal affiliations and launching a second poster craze. As images of film celebrities, rock bands, and political activists wallpapered dorm rooms within the rapidly expanding collegiate demographic, poster vendors flourished, and the press took notice. Hilton Kramer called it “Postermania” in the New York Times.

While celebrity and activist images were often photographic, much of the poster art of the 1960s sported a radical new look. On the East Coast, the disparate artists of New York’s Push Pin Studios promoted innovation, ignoring Bauhaus-inspired spareness and turning toward more decorative precursors. Milton Glaser’s Dylan quickly became an icon of the era. Psychedelic West Coast rock posters, characterized by swirling colors and illegible lettering, successfully evoked the burgeoning counterculture and were collected throughout the nation and overseas.

National Portrait Gallery

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