Psychedelic Painting after the 1968 Broadway Poster

Original anonymous painting, ca. 1968, depicting a mirrored psychedelic image of a man with large rainbow striped afro, with stark contrast between light and shadow.  Acrylic on Strathmore, some light wear else fine. 23 x 29 inches (58.4 x 73.7 cm.).

A take on the original poster for the 1968 Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical which featured unforgettable photo-illustrations by Ruspoli-Rodriguez and became a classic of the 60’s counterculture.  The rock musical with a book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado and music by Galt MacDermot reflects the creators' observations of the hippie counterculture and sexual revolution of the late 1960s, and several of its songs became anthems of the anti-Vietnam War peace movement. The musical's profanity, its depiction of the use of illegal drugs, its treatment of sexuality, its irreverence for the American flag, and its nude scene caused much comment and controversy. The musical broke new ground in musical theatre by defining the genre of "rock musical", using a racially integrated cast, and inviting the audience onstage for a "Be-In" finale.  The New York Times noted in 2007 that "The cast album of Hair was... a must-have for the middle classes. Its exotic orange-and-green cover art imprinted itself instantly and indelibly on the psyche.... [It] became a pop-rock classic that, like all good pop, has an appeal that transcends particular tastes for genre or period."

"At the end of the 1950s, a small number of young black female dancers and jazz singers broke with prevailing black community norms and wore unstraightened hair. The hairstyle they wore had no name and when noticed by the black press, was commonly referred to as wearing hair "close-cropped." These dancers and musicians were sympathetic to or involved with the civil rights movement and felt that unstraightened hair expressed their feelings of racial pride. Around 1960, similarly motivated female student civil rights activists at Howard University and other historically black colleges stopped straightening their hair, had it cut short, and generally suffered ridicule from fellow students. Over time the close-cropped style developed into a large round shape, worn by both sexes, and achieved by lifting longer unstraightened hair outward with a wide-toothed comb known as an Afro pick. At the peak of its popularity in the late 1960s and early 1970s the Afro epitomized the black is beautiful movement. In those years the style represented a celebration of black beauty and a repudiation of Eurocentric beauty standards." (Maxine Leeds Craig, "History of the Afro hairstyle") (18919)

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