Records and Rebels 1966-1970 at the V&A Museum: What more can be said about the ’60s?

By Mark Hudson The Telegraph

The Beatles, the Souper Dress, Angela Davis CREDIT: REUTERS/V&A

What more can there possibly be to say about the Sixties?From the perspective of the Seventies and Eighties, theBeatles-and-Woodstock decade appeared a rather silly era, too recent to have accrued historical glamour. But since the Nineties, when the Baby Boomer generation – born after the War and young in the Sixties – ruled the world (think Clinton and Blair… or maybe don’t), the period has come to be seen as the summit of human achievement to date, with every last festival, freak-out and fringe figure endlessly raked over in some breathless TV documentary or magazine article. Indeed, you might wonder what new material or insights this epic exploration of the late Sixties counter-culture, curated by the team behind the V&A’s hugely successful David Bowie exhibition, could possibly bring to the feast. The answer, on glancing through the first couple of rooms at least, is precious little.

As scene-setting, the Kennedy assassination, African-American Civil Rights and the Profumo affair feel painfully predictable; though this being the V&A, where there’s an inevitable emphasis on design objects, we are shown not only Lewis Morley’s iconic photograph of Christine Keeler naked astride a Jacobsen chair, but the actual, now battered chair, which is a nice touch.

While the exhibition sets out to show how “youth culture catalysed an optimistic idealism, motivating people to come together and question established power structures”, the tone in the section on Swinging London is quaint and quirky, rather than bracingly radical. A smartly suited Vidal Sassoon indulges in groove-tastic dancing in vintage film framed by a rather rudimentary mock-up of his hairdressing salon, while Twiggy rides a tiny-wheeled Raleigh Wisp moped in a rather too-often seen photograph by Ronald Traeger.

Twiggy, Battersea Park, London, Vogue – July 1967 CREDIT: RONALD TRAEGER

You can read more at the Telegraph

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