image: Clay Geerdes: Cockettes Go Shopping, 1972; digital print; 42 x 28 in.; courtesy David Miller, from the estate of Clay Geerdes.
This major exhibition celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love by showcasing radical art, architecture, and design that laid the foundations for the tech revolution, the environmental movement, and advances in social justice. Hippie Modernism charts the evolution of one of the most fertile periods of recent cultural history (c. 1964–74) with experimental furniture, alternative living structures, immersive environments, media installations, alternative magazines, experimental books, printed ephemera, and films.
These works convey the social, cultural, and political ferment of the 1960s and 1970s, when radical experiments challenged convention, overturned traditional hierarchies, and advanced new communal ways of living and working. Hippie Modernism also demonstrates how the counterculture, once dismissed as a social and aesthetic anomaly, introduced ideas and techniques that have profoundly shaped contemporary life, including ecological awareness, social justice, and open communication. From yoga and organic foods to the Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter movements, the counterculture’s legacy remains as strong as ever.
The exhibition at BAMPFA highlights the key role the Bay Area—and especially Berkeley—played in the counterculture movement. Many artists, architects, and designers in this period were searching for a new kind of utopia as an implicit critique of society; however, in the Bay Area, many hoped to go beyond mere critique to create actual change—technological, political, and ecological—on the streets, in the classroom, and in government policy. “Hippies were modern not because they believed that the world could be different than it was,” says BAMPFA Director Lawrence Rinder, “but because they made that difference real.”
Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopiai s organized by the Walker Art Center and assembled with the assistance of the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA), and was curated by Andrew Blauvelt, director of Cranbrook Art Museum. The BAMPFA presentation is organized by Director Lawrence Rinder and guest curator Greg Castillo, associate professor of architecture at the University of California, Berkeley.