The Power of one Flower
FlowerPower in the 60s…
Flower power was a slogan used during the late 1960s and early 1970s as a symbol of passive resistance and non-violenceideology.It is rooted in the opposition movement to the Vietnam War.The expression was coined by the American beat poet Allen Ginsberg in 1965 as a means to transform war protests into peaceful affirmative spectacles.Hippies embraced the symbolism by dressing in clothing with embroidered flowers and vibrant colors, wearing flowers in their hair, and distributing flowers to the public, becoming known as flower children.The term later became generalized as a modern reference to the hippie movement and the so-called counterculture of drugs, psychedelic music, psychedelic art and social permissiveness.
Flower Power originated in Berkeley, California as a symbolic action of protest against the Vietnam War. In his November 1965 essay titled How to Make a March/Spectacle, Ginsberg advocated that protesters should be provided with “masses of flowers” to hand out to policemen, press, politicians and spectators.The use of props like flowers, toys, flags, candy and music were meant to turn anti-war rallies into a form of street theater thereby reducing the fear, anger and threat that is inherent within protests. In particular, Ginsberg wanted to counter the “specter” of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang who supported the war, equated war protesters with communists and had threatened to violently disrupt planned anti-war demonstrations at the University of California, Berkeley.Using Ginsberg’s methods, the protest received positive attention and the use of “flower power” became an integral symbol in the counterculture movement.
The iconic center of the Flower Power movement was the Haight Ashbury district in San Francisco, California. By the mid-1960s, the area, marked by the intersection of Haight and Ashbury Streets, had become a focal point for psychedelic rock music.Musicians and bands like Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin all lived a short distance from the famous intersection. During the 1967 Summer of Love, thousands of hippies gathered there, popularized by hit songs such as “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)”. A July 7, 1967, Time magazine cover story on “The Hippies: Philosophy of a Subculture,” and an August CBS News television report on “The Hippie Temptation”as well as other major media interest exposed the hippie subculture to national attention and popularized the Flower Power movement across the country and around the world.
The avante garde art of Milton Glaser, Heinz Edelmann, and Peter Max became synonymous with the flower power generation. Edelman’s illustration style was best known in his art designs for The Beatles’ 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine. Glaser, the founder of Push Pin Studios, also developed the loose psychedelic graphic design, seen for example in his seminal 1966 poster illustration of Bob Dylan with paisley hair.It was the posters by pop artist Peter Max, with their vivid fluid designs painted in Day-Glo colors, which became visual icons of flower power.Max’s cover story in Life magazine (September 1969) as well as appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and The Ed Sullivan Show, further established “flower power” style art into mainstream culture.