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Looking for Mushrooms - Beat Poets, Hippies, Funk and Minimal Art: Art and Counterculture
Peter Saul, Cash, 1965, Farbstift, Collage und Tinte auf Museumswand, 76,2 x 101,6 cm, Privatsammlung, Courtesy George Adams Gallery, New York.

COLOGNE.- Museum Ludwig presents Looking for Mushrooms - Beat Poets, Hippies, Funk and Minimal Art: Art and Counterculture in San Francisco 1955 - 1968, on view through March 1, 2009. Forty years on from 1968, the year that spelt radical change for society, it is time to turn our minds back to the art scene in a city that was regarded in the 1960s and 1970s as the Mecca of experimental culture and lifestyles (beat poets, hippie movement, counterculture).

Not New York, but “at the end of the world” – the area around San Francisco on the West coast of the USA – saw the taboos of a work-oriented post-war modernism being broken in a way that opened up an intense exchange between all of the arts. Looking for Mushrooms is the name of a film made in 1959-1967 by Bruce Connor, which has been taken for the exhibition title. Here tiny film particles melt together to form a virtuoso abstract play of light and colour. The title not only awakens associations with “magic mushrooms” and sixties drug culture. Bruce Connor is a person who draws together all the threads linking art, film, dance, beat and pop culture. This is not typical of him alone, but for the whole of the fifties and sixties in San Francisco and the Bay Area. The boundaries between the arts were broken down, leading not only to a politicised counterculture, but also the mingling of theatre, dance, the visual arts, literature and film.

Any number of the artists experimenting in this milieu have had a telling influence on the developments in the international art scene since the 1960s. Their art can no longer be grasped by the traditional categories of the creative subject or of a discrete artwork that reflects on its own particular medium.

For this reason the exhibition - which will feature a synchronous cross-section of some 200 works and documents that highlight the interweaving of the arts and artists and bring them to life – is planned to be accompanied be a densely-packed film programme and a richly documented reference book. The exhibition is curated by Barbara Engelbach (Museum Ludwig) together with Friederike Wappler (University of Bochum) and Hans Winkler (freelance artist and curator).

The exhibition is backed by the Kunststiftung NRW.

Artists in the Exhibition: William Allan, Bruce Baillie, Ruth-Marion Baruch, Wallace Berman, Stan Brakhage, James Broughton, Bruce Conner, Robert Crumb, Ron G. Davis / San Francisco Mime Troupe, Jay DeFeo, Walter De Maria, Emory Douglas, Terry Fox, Allen Ginsberg, Rick Griffith, Anna Halprin, Wallace Hedrick, Jess, Pirkle Jones, Lawrence Jordan, Steve Kaltenbach, Alton Kelley, Ken Kesey, Timothy Leary, Bonnie MacLean , Michael McClure, Christopher MacLaine, Victor Moscoso, Mouse Studios, Bruce Nauman, Gunvor Nelson, Robert Nelson, Sidney Peterson, Yvonne Rainer, Steve Reich, Ron Rice, Terry Riley, Peter Saul, ruth weiss, H.C. Westermann, Dorothy Wiley, William T. Wiley, Wes Wilson, and La Monte Young.

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