From Flower Power to Peace and Love America in the 1960s

Written by Leanna Serras

Art and Architecture

The art, artists and architecture of the 1960s took on a more radical and contemporary aspect than the modest art and design we saw in the 1950s. Pop art, minimalism, abstract art, op art, conceptual art and environmental art gained popularity during this period. The art of the 60s sometimes reflected the social and political climate of the time. Popular artists of the 1960s include Andy Warhol, Ad Reinhardt, Terry Atkinson, Jackson Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler, Agnes Martin, LeWitt, Daniel Buren, and Clement Greenberg, to name a few. Just as in the art world, architecture of the 1960s took on a new creative design. Architectures started to recognize the connection between buildings and their environments in the 60s. Architects began using light and space predominantly. Designs even started to take on a futuristic feel; with space exploration at its peak, metallic, space-like structures started appearing such as the Sputnik light. Pod chairs, shag carpeting, wood paneling, and bold, contrasting colors became dominate during this era.

Fads and Fashion

In the 1950s, fashion was conservative and modest. Entering the 60s, fashion and trends were anything but modest! Gone were the perfectly primped petty coats and tailored suits; mini skirts, bright, bold colored dresses and patterns were the new rage! Fashion during this time started becoming a cultural phenomenon, with models like Twiggy, Brigette Bardot, Peggy Moffitt, and Pattie Boyd becoming fashion stars and icons. Women's hairstyles became bigger and bolder, with the beehive, pixie cut, flipped bob, and Afros becoming popular. Vidal Sassoon became the most famous hair dresser of the time. Those beautiful 'dos might be spritzed with a funky floral perfume that was also a popular fragrance of the day. With the Beatles becoming the most popular musicians of this era, their fashion tastes helped influence the masses.

Historic Events and Technology

The 1960s decade was one of America's most culturally divided and diverse decades. Politics, civil rights, social injustices, wars and the assassination of our President were topics that weighed heavily on the American public. Civil rights was one of the major issues being championed during this time. The feminist movement gathered momentum, with women fighting for equal rights and equal pay. The Peace Corps was founded during this time, to promote peace and anti-war, while improve living standards in third world countries. There was constant competition between the Russians and the Americans for the race to space, in addition to the ongoing saga of the Cold War. Technology saw a surge during this time, as the first video game console became a reality. Computers became more user friendly with the addition of the first computer mouse, the invention of DRAM and the UNIX operating system. Automobiles made the transition to a cleaner, more eco-friendly lifestyle. The end of the 60s decade saw one of the most memorable moments in Upstate New York in 1969 with the Woodstock Festival.


The 60s was a great decade for music lovers. Artists like The Beatles from England took the United States by storm; not only did they become one of the most popular musicians of all time, but they became a cultural phenomenon. Other artists like like Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead, James Brown, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, the Byrds, the Who, the Beach Boys, and many others defined the music era. The pop music of the 50s was replaced in the 60s with the psychedelic rock sound emerging. The 1969 Woodstock Music Festival was the highlight of the decade, with over 3 days of the biggest 60s musicians performing.