Friday, March 20, 2015

The all seeing eye (Wayne Shorter)

Recently, I enjoyed watching Bright Lights Brilliant Minds - a three part BBC doco series presented by art historian Dr James Fox.

The idea is simple - focus on three years that are 'crucibles of creativity' (Fox's cool phrase). 

He picks Austria 1908, Paris 1928, and New York 1951.

It got me thinking about what I'd choose as the next one in the sequence. It made me wonder where and when.  

There's only one choice really: London 1966

London was the centre of the universe in 1966. It was a mass of swinging energy, a time when a city and a culture would come together as a crucible of creativity in a definable year.

Okay, so, why:

It was the year of The BeatlesRevolver album - recorded in St John's Wood at Abbey Road studios. The album vies with Sgt Pepper's as the greatest album of all time.

Full stop! I could finish there but I can offer some more evidence if you're not yet convinced.

During the year three seminal bands - The BeatlesThe Rolling Stones and The Who performed at the NME '​s poll winners' show in London. The Stones and The Who (along with The Kinks who released Face To Face in 1966) are Londoners. The Stones and Who also had big releases in 1966 - Aftermath and A Quick One respectively. 

Bob Dylan and the Hawks (later The Band) performed at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester, England. Dylan was booed by the audience because of his decision to tour with an electric band, the boos culminated in the famous "Judas" shout. London was such a pervasive influence this year that the bootleg set was called The Royal Albert Hall (where Bob had also played in 1966). Even the legitimate CD issue called it that!

In terms of art - 1966 is the year when John Lennon meets Yoko Ono when he attends a preview of her art exhibition at the Indica Gallery in London. 

Yoko Ono has had a huge influence on the way we conceive of art. She breaks boundaries and stretches taboos (or is it the other way 'round?). Her relationship with Lennon intertwined the art world and the music world. It seemed right, and still does!

Her pieces/peaces have had a lasting influence and it all started in 1966 in London.

Also in the art world: Mira Schendel (1919–1988) was one of Latin America’s most unique and prolific post-war artists. She helped reinvent the language of European Modernism. She had an influential solo exhibition in London's Signals gallery in 1966. 
Like Indica, Signals London was an important gallery of international, experimental art.
The gallery specialised in artists whose work was interdisciplinary and it aimed to connect art and poetics with new thinking in science and technology. 1966 - the tipping point into a new consciousness. 
The Destruction in Art Symposium was a gathering of a diverse group of international artists, poets, and scientists to London 1966. Included in this number were representatives of the counter-cultural underground who were there to speak on the theme of destruction in art.
As for film - 1966 was the year of Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow Up. Archetypal swinging, cool London, is the backdrop as Antonioni captures the year and the zeitgeist of London.

The 1966 World Cup was held in London - England won (with a hat trick by Geoff Hurst - not a native Londoner but a West Ham legend).

The model Jean Shrimpton was another icon from 1966 and one of the world's first supermodels. She was the world's highest paid and most photographed model during this time. Shrimpton was called "The Face of the '60s", in which she has been considered by many as "the symbol of Swinging London".

London 1966!! What a place! What a year! Unfortunately London's influence wouldn't even last into the next year (more on that in the next post) but in 1966 - London was the place to be.

Love and peace - Wozza 

No comments: