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By year: 1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963 | 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | 1969

Related: civil rights movement - counterculture - free love - exotica - groovy - hippy - swinging London - May 1968 (Paris) - Frankfurt school Marxism - mod lifestyle (London) - Pop art - sexual revolution - Space Age era - swinging sixties - Woodstock festival - youth culture

Trends in music: rise of concept albums - electric guitar - Afrobeat - Northern soul - rock music - funk - reggae

Trends in film: list of 1960s films - nouvelle vague (France) - New Hollywood (USA)

Cult of Vespa: Stefania Sandrelli, March 1964
image source here.

Wohnmodell (1969) - Joe Colombo ("Visiona" exhibit by Bayer 1969)

Easy Rider (1969) - Dennis Hopper [Amazon.com]

Easy Rider is a 1969 film which has become an anthem to the hippie lifestyle of the 1960s. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easy_Rider [Nov 2004]


The Sixties in its most obvious sense refers to the decade between 1960 and 1969 , but the expression has taken on a wider meaning over the past 20 years. It has come to refer to the complex of inter-related cultural and political events which occurred in approximately that period, mainly in the United States but also in other western countries, particularly France, West Germany and Britain. It is used both nostalgically by those who participated in those events, and censoriously by those who regard them as a period whose harmful effect are still being felt today.

Popular memory has conflated into "the Sixties" some events which did not actually occur in that decade. The American Civil Rights Movement, for example, was formed during the 1950s, although some of its most dramatic events occurred in the early '60s. On the other hand, women's liberation and gay liberation began only in the very late '60s and reached their full flowering in the 1970s. But the term Sixties has become a convenient shorthand for all the new, exciting, radical, subversive and/or dangerous (according to one’s viewpoint) events and trends of the period. [...]

In other Western countries

The influence of American culture and politics in Western Europe, Japan and Australia was already so great by the early 1960s that most of the trends described above soon spawned counterparts in most Western countries. University students rioted in London, Paris, Berlin and Rome, huge crowds protested against the Vietnam War in Australia and New Zealand (both of which had committed troops to the war), and politicians such as Harold Wilson and Pierre Trudeau modelled themselves on John F. Kennedy.

An important difference between the United States and Western Europe, however, was the existence of a mass socialist and/or Communist movement in most European countries (particularly France and Italy), with which the student-based new left was able to forge a connection. The most spectacular manifestation of this was the May 1968 student revolt in Paris, which linked up with a general strike called by the Communist-controlled trade unions and for a few days seemed capable of overthrowing the government of Charles de Gaulle. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sixties [2004]

The 'sixties' never happened in Spain
Likewise, 'the 1960s', though technically applicable to anywhere in the world according to Common Era numbering, has a certain set of specific cultural connotations in certain countries. For this reason it may be possible to say such things as 'The 1960s never occurred in Spain.' This would mean that the sexual revolution, counter-culture, youth rebellion and so on never developed during that decade in Spain's conservative Roman Catholic culture and under Franco's fascist regime. Likewise it is possible to claim, as the historian Arthur Marwick has, that 'the 1960s' began in the late 1950s and ended in the early 1970s. His reason for saying this is that the cultural and economic conditions that define the meaning of the period covers more than the accidental fact of a 10 year block beginning with the number 6. This extended usage is termed the 'long 1960s'. This usage derives from other historians who have adopted labels such as the 'Long Nineteenth Century' (1789-1914) to reconcile arbitrary decimal chronology with meaningful cultural and social phases. Similarly an Eighteenth Century may run 1714 - 1789. Eric Hobsbawm has also argued for what he calls the 'Short Twentieth Century', encompassing the period from the First World War through to the end of the Cold War. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Periodization [Dec 2004]

Subculture of the 1960s

In the 1960s the "beats" or "beatniks" grew to be an even larger subculture, reaching such proportions that they spread around the world, and developed subcultures of their own. Subcultures within subcultures. That was the extent of cultural fractiousness in the 60s. The beat scene included Radicals, Peaceniks, Mods, Rockers, Bikers, hippies and, eventually, the self-parody thing: the freak scene.

The term mod had different meanings depending which side of the Atlantic you were on and so did radical. Subcultures were still usually about living life to the full and wild behaviour but in the 60s there was the Vietnam war to protest about, rebel against and avoid getting drafted into. The hippies' big year was 1967, the so called summer of love.

There were subcultures which were also political movements, for instance the Black Panther Party and the Yippies.

University students around the world had always been a minor subculture but, by the mid-60s, had become a major one. In Paris, France in May 1968 a student uprising brought the country to a standstill and caused the government to call a general election rather than run the risk of being toppled from power.

Also during the 60s was the beginning of Hacker culture from the increased usage of computers at colleges. Students who were fascinated by the possibilities of computers, the telephone and technology in general began figuring out ways to make the technology more freely available or accessible.

Another subculture of the 60s was the Rude boy culture in Jamaica and, latterly in the United Kingdom. The rude boy subculture influenced some elements of the British mods, which then developed into skinheads around 1969. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_subcultures_in_the_20th_century [Dec 2004]


  • 1960 Peeping Tom (1960) - Michael Powell
  • 1961 Merda d'Artista (1961) - Piero Manzoni
  • 1962 Mondo Cane (1962) - Gualtiero Jacopetti, Franco Prosperi
  • 1963 Flaming Creatures (1963) - Jack Smith
  • 1964 Notes on Camp (1964) - Susan Sontag
  • 1965 Hippie coined
  • 1966 Gordon (1966) - Edith Templeton
  • 1967 Belle de Jour (1967) - Luis Buñuel
  • 1968 Paris, May 1968 revolts
  • 1969 New York, Stonewall incident

    Sixties fashion

    Yves St Laurent 1965
    image sourced here.

    Pierre Cardin 1967
    image sourced here.

    Paco Rabanne 1967
    image sourced here.

    see also: sixties - fashion - Paco Rabanne - André Courrèges - Pierre Cardin

    Books on the sixties

    1. The Sixties - Richard Avedon, Doon Arbus [Amazon US]
      The Sixties is the product of a 30-year collaboration between photographer Richard Avedon and writer Doon Arbus, whose images and words combine in this volume to create a compelling portrait of one of the 20th century's most tumultuous decades. Avedon, the celebrated photographer whose portraits of some of the best-known personalities of our age have graced the pages of Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, and The New Yorker magazines since the early 1950s, was prolific during the '60s. Looked at together, his images from those years create a visual time capsule. This large book is filled with a cacophony of Yippies, Black Panthers, Weathermen, Hare Krishnas, Andy Warhol Factory Superstars, pop artists, rock musicians, astronauts, pacifists, politicians, electroshock therapists, media correspondents, civil rights lawyers, antiwar activists, and more--all shot against his signature white background. Arbus, a novelist and writer for magazines including Rolling Stone and The Nation (and the daughter of photographer Diane Arbus), conducted interviews with many of the subjects. Snippets of those conversations provide an intimate and unforgettable document of the tension, vulnerability, anger, recklessness, hope, and empowerment many people experienced during that era. Brief biographies of the portrait sitters, as well as a chronology that spans the first signs of the war in Vietnam in 1960 to its final conclusion in 1973, provide excellent context for the images. The Sixties is riveting. --A.C. Smith, Amazon.com

      Sixties Design (2001) - Philippe Garner

      Sixties Design (2001) - Philippe Garner [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

      During the decade many associate with the Beatles, hippies, and flower power, designers in Europe, Asia, and the Americas were fundamentally rethinking modernist principles. Sixties Design is a documentation and analysis of that era during which belief in modernist design began to crumble. As modernism--the foremost design mode of the 20th century--reached its golden years, it came to be considered by many an autocratic, almost fascistically impersonal movement that strove to raise the standards of large groups by ignoring the peccadilloes of individuals. At the same time, the modern era and its designers are responsible for remarkable innovations that have forever changed the way we live, work, and play. The book captures an interesting moment during which modernism and its refutations began to coexist.

      Author Philippe Garner breaks the book up into five sections. In each he addresses a different aspect of the designed '60s, and his insights add dimension to the hundreds of illustrations. He makes connections between the cold war and Jane Fonda's erotic antics in a fur-lined spaceship from the movie Barbarella--with photo-documentation to boot--and he provides a startlingly lucid and economical analysis of Swedish modern furniture design in the context of minimalist principles and the craft revival. From Florence Knoll's office designs to Oscar Niemeyer's unparalleled "master plan" city, Brasilia; from Richard Avedon's fashion photography to Neal Armstrong's space walk, Sixties Design offers countless vistas from which to rethink a decade too long associated with paisleys and free love. --Loren E. Baldwin for Amazon.com

    Return of the Secaucus 7 (1980) - John Sayles

    1. Return of the Secaucus 7 (1980) - John Sayles [Amazon.com]
      John Sayles began his commendable directing career with this terrific portrait of 1960s counterculture survivors, now teetering on the brink of turning 30. A homegrown movie all the way, Return of the Secaucus Seven was made for around $60,000 of Sayles's own money (earned writing horror pictures such as Piranha). An effortlessly funny and thoughtful ensemble piece, Secaucus unmistakably provided the template for the bigger-budgeted The Big Chill: old friends reunite for a weekend to sort through fond memories, old resentments, and new problems. Sayles, longtime producing partner Maggi Renzi, and then-unknown David Strathairn are among the actors. The marvelous back-and-forth patter of the characters and the sprightly pacing show Sayles already had a sure sense of what he wanted on screen, and his mastery of the running gag is in place (the name Dwight won't ever sound quite the same again). This is the definition of "low-budget classic," from an indie pioneer. --Robert Horton, amazon.com

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