Publication Details

Organ, M. K. 2018, 'Confrontational continuum: modernism and the psychedelic art of Martin Sharp', The Sixties: a journal of history, politics and culture, vol. 11, pp. 156-182.


The Australian artist Martin Sharp (1942-2013) produced a series of psychedelic artworks in London between 1966-8, the most famous of which were the Disraeli Gears record cover for rock group Cream and the Bob Dylan Blowin’ in the Mind poster. Sharp’s work exemplifies the connection between early twentieth century Modernist art movements, Pop art and acid-induced psychedelia of the 1960s. In addition, the poster Max Ernst: The Birdman from 1967, represents a homage to Dada and Surrealism, with special reference to anarchy, desire, and freedom of expression. In the spirit of Dada, the poster is meaningfully confrontational, exposing the darker side of the 1960s countercultural revolution in Western societies. This aspect of the youth movements of the 1960s is part of a continuum, drawing upon ideas and activities championed during the late 1910s and early 1920s by proponents of Dada and Surrealism. These resurfaced within the multifaceted counterculture of the 1960s, spurred on by Cold War tensions, rejection of 1950s conservative mores, opposition to nuclear proliferation, the conflict in Vietnam, an explosion in popular music, and the widespread use of psychedelic drugs such as LSD. Sharp’s art is part of this confrontational continuum.



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