Wednesday, September 07, 2016


Two landmark shows, one in its last month at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the other due to open shortly at the V&A in London. Younger generations are tuning into a counter-cultural frame of mind as we watch the ancien regimes struggle to control a world full of dramatic change. In retrospect, the late 50s to early 70s were the Western World's Arab Spring, the last time that the youth asserted themselves, changed their consciousness and invented many of the new ways of thinking and living that were transformational at the time and beyond. Seems to THE GENERALIST that the seeds of a new counter-culture are in the air or already sprouting. Are you ready for it?


'Foreshadowing the youth culture and the cultural and sexual liberation of the 1960s, the emergence of the Beat Generation in the years following the Second World War, just as the Cold War was setting in, scandalised a puritan and Mc Carthyite America. Then seen as subversive rebels, the Beats appear today as the representatives of one of the most important cultural movements of the 20th century - a movement the Centre Pompidou's survey will examine in all its breadth and geographical amplitude, from New York to Los Angeles, from Paris to Tangier.

'The Centre Pompidou's exhibition maps both the shifting geographical focus of the movement and its ever-shifting contours. For the artistic practices of the Beat Generation - readings, performances, concerts and films - testify to a breaking down of artistic boundaries and a desire for interdisciplinary collaboration that puts the singularity of the artist into question.

'Alongside notable visual artists, mostly representative of the California scene (Wallace Berman, Bruce Conner, George Herms, Jay DeFeo, Jess...), an important place is given to the literary dimension of the movement, to spoken poetry in its relationship to jazz, and more particularly to the Black American poetry (LeRoi Jones, Bob Kaufman...) that remains largely unknown in Europe, like the magazines in which it circulated (Beatitude, Umbra...). Photography was also an important medium, represented here by the productions of Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs - mostly portraits - and a substantial body of photographs by Robert Frank (Les Américains, From the Bus...), Fred McDarrah, and John Cohen, all taken during the shooting of Pull my Daisy, as well
as work by Harold Chapman, who chronicled the life of the Beat Hotel in Paris between 1958 and 1963. The same was true of the films (Christopher MacLaine, Bruce Baillie, Stan Brakhage, Ron Rice...) that would both reflect and document the history and development of the movement.'
Source: Boutique Centre Pompidou

Reviews of the show:
'In Freedom's Playground' by James Campbell/The Guardian 9th July

'Paris has acquired the habit of mounting major exhibitions on literary subjects... but why the Beats and why now? "The idea is to show these freedoms, which were fought for then, and which are in danger of disappearing", say Philippe-Alain Michaud, who has curated the show...We wanted to show the multimedia nature of the movement - not just writing but painting and film as well - and how the idea of travel was central to it.'

'There is another good reason  for bringing the Beats to Paris.More than Tangier, which often gets the credit, the French capital was where Beat production reached its high point between 1957 an 1960. With the turn of the decade, what had been an underground movement rose the surface and was exposed to damaging commercial light.'

'At the Centre Pompidou' by Jeremy Harding/London Review of Books 8th Sept

[The] 'trophy exhibit is Kerouac's highway-scroll manuscript of On the Road, composed in 1951: at more than thirty metres, ut runs most of the length of the second room, inviting visitors on a pilgrim's route to the true north of the Beat kingdom.'

This major exhibition will explore the era-defining significance and impact of the late 1960s, expressed through some of the greatest music and performances of the 20th century alongside fashion, film, design and political activism.

A'Voices from the Underground' feature in The Times Review/Sept 24th 1988
 - the 20th anniversary of the events of 1968. This was always one of my
favourite pictures of that time, which originally I believe appeared on the cover of a 1967 issue of the  Observer Magazine that featured  inside an interview with Paul McCartney, illustrated by Alan Aldridge. It was the posters that really turned me on.
[The Generalist Archive]

YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION? : RECORDS AND REBELS 1966-1970 opens at the V&A this coming Saturday.

 How have the finished and unfinished revolutions of the late 1960s changed the way we live today and think about the future?

 This major exhibition will explore the era-defining significance and impact of the late 1960s, expressed through some of the greatest music and performances of the 20th century alongside fashion, film, design and political activism.

Being The Times it had to get an illustrator to amend the speech bubble of the 1963 Roy Lichtenstein painting 'Hopeless'. The original read as follows: 'THAT'S THE WAY IT SHOULD HAVE BEGUN! BUT IT'S HOPELESS!

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