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West of Center: Art and the Counterculture Experiment in America, 1965-1977 Paperback – November 2, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"West of Center is an overview of the rich and complicated countercultural moment when different artistic practices shared a belief in and dedication to alternative methods and materials. From Drop City to Anna and Lawrence Halprin’s workshops, from Paolo Soleri to Newton and Helen Harrison’s ecological projects, this volume makes connections across disciplines and describes multi-faceted influences on the art of today." —Chip Lord, Founder and partner with Ant Farm, 1968 - 1978

About the Author

Elissa Auther is associate professor of contemporary art at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. She is the author of String, Felt, Thread: The Hierarchy of Art and Craft in American Art (Minnesota, 2010).

Adam Lerner is director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver and chief animator in the Department of Fabrications.

Lucy R. Lippard is an internationally known writer, activist, and curator. She is the author of eighteen books on contemporary art and has written art criticism for Art in America, The Village Voice, and Z Magazine, among other publications.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press (November 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816677263
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816677269
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,203,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Xan Hart on June 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
I can't say how enthusiastic I am about this treatise. For an academic book, it's a really great read. If you were there, you WILL remember it! The art that is so hard to define has been hard because it was like the forest and the trees - during those times we were too close to it. What Counterculture artistic expression really does is redefine art itself! It makes it a living, breathing, changing thing, a lifestyle, a conjunction of colliding influences into an explosion of creative freedom across interest areas and disciplines, pulling together our lives into a rich tapestry that finally made sense. Even the not-making-sense fit! And "West of Center" gets those excited little synapses firing again.

Of course, I'm biased. I was there. I was one of the moving creators from, I'd say, 1963 on. One aspect of my work is mentioned in some detail in the Handmade Genders section by Julia Bryan-Wilson, while the larger part of it is intermingled in the very informative and well-presented "Introduction ... Consciousness and Encounters at the Edge of Art" by editors Auther and Lerner.

Inspired by this book and my own frustration with the misunderstanding of those times, I am beginning work on a blog which will connect those times to these, heavily dependent on imagery and stories. This will probably be located sometime by July, 2012 in a website for Native Funk & Flash, which is being put together as a student project in Seattle, not at my suggestion. Turns out young people are finally interested in what really happened!

--Alexandra (Jacopetti) Hart
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Debra Jan Bibel TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 19, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Filling in some gaps and overturning some complacent ideas and misconceptions, this collection of essays broadens the appreciation of art and life during the cultural upheaval of the decade of the mid 1960s to mid 1970s. The condensation of "sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll" misses the greater change in cognitive and environmental awareness and in artistic freedom, such that willfully altered lifestyles themselves are now viewed as holistic artforms. Music, too, is art, but that subject has been already well covered and its history and effect are readily accessible; thus it is not included in the book, although the neo-Art Nouveau and psychedelic concert posters are the subject of the concluding chapter. Instead the respective authors of this edited retrospective focus on both pioneers and representatives who epitomize the era. As expected, the quality of the essays vary with author, but the editors accomplished a comparative evenness in tone and scholarship. The book encompasses architectural philosophy; the elevation of craft; rural and urbane art communes; art within the rise of the Black Panther and La Raza movements, gay liberation, and the anti-Vietnam War movement. We read about how dance and landscape design interacted with the Halprins, how clothing design was part of the daily life of the outrageous troupe the Cockettes; and that nature photographer Ansel Adams and Esalen Institute are linked through spiritual development. We learn about experimental film and video collectives and the development of light shows that became part of rock concerts. Of course, there is mention of Buddhism, of the artistic and poetic effects of LSD and other entheogens, and of the Whole
Earth Catalogue and rise of Environmentalism. The reader will soon appreciate the excitement and creativity of the era.
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