BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. — Sometimes, taking a wider view of art history can create a more expansive curatorial vision. Previously the senior curator of Design, Research, and Publishing, and later the curator of Architecture and Design at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Andrew Blauvelt developed a wider take on which elements of cultural production contribute to art movements. He brought this perspective to Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia, an exhibition that was five years in-the-making before it expanded into the Walker’s 14,000 square-foot floor plan in 2015. Hippie Modernism (with the exception of a few artworks) is now at the Cranbrook Art Museum, following on Blauvelt’s heels in his new appointment as the director of the museum. The exhibition offers a fascinating look at the merging of hippie values with a modern design sensibility and how it sparked unique cultural production far outside the highly commoditized art market inflamed by Pop Art.
“From a design perspective, it’s all the creation of artifacts, the creation of the lifestyle — so all the accessories or the props, in some cases, that would be necessary to stage post-revolutionary life,” said Blauvelt, defining Hippie Modernism as a movement, in an interview with Hyperallergic. “As a designer, I understand that design is always prototyping things — it’s a modeling exercise, basically. Your building is going to look like this, your brand will look like that — and it’s the same thing here, except it’s done for everyday life.”