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Robert Altman's Sixties ~ Portrait of a Generation
The Museum at Bethel Woods (original site of Woodstock)
September 25, 2009 thru Jan 3, 2010



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London Exhibit July ~ October 2008


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Larry King
"The Sixties was the most amazing decade in American History.”

Chicago Sun Times
“The reader will be struck by Altman's use of light revealing the versatility that made Altman famous. The Sixties will wow as a holiday gift or make an excellent addition to your personal library”


The Royal Photographic Society Journal Review
"As someone who wasn't lucky enough to have lived through what was arguably the most culturally significant decade of the 20th century, but who has always viewed that period in history somewhat idealistically - peace, love and great music - this book is everything I could have hoped for, its images perfectly reflecting this somewhat rose-tinted perspective on the 1960s.

The overriding spirit of the book is one of youthful energy and exuberance. From unashamedly naked young lovers kissing on college campuses, to protesting hippies and crowds of people, arms uplifted swaying to the music of Joan Baez and Bob Dylan - these moments, observed by former Rolling Stone magazine photographer Robert Altman, radiate optimism.

What is most appealing about the work is that we can sense the openness of Altman's subjects: they are clearly just as at ease under the scrutiny of his lens as he is in photographing them. And by capturing people at their most unguarded, Altman creates the illusion that you are not merely looking back into the past, but are a part of it, welcomed into the scene. There is the sense that Altman didn't need to put in any great effort into achieving such iconic images, but that for the 1960s to look this good, you simply had to be there with a reel of film, camera poised.

Of course, this belittles Altman's artistry. His skill lies in taking photos that, while giving the impression of spontaneity, succeed in sending out a very specific and intentional message to the viewer. For example, a shot of an anti-war march in San Francisco brilliantly encapsulates the clash between the young, peace-loving protesters, and an older generation of Americans finding it hard to adapt to what they see as a lack of patriotism and discipline. Centrally framing a middle-aged ex-serviceman, arms folded in defiance, with a steely glare directed at the camera, against a backdrop of peace banners and denim-clad youngsters, Altman expresses the generational tension in America during the 1960s in a single picture of contrast.

Grouped together in a section of the book are images of much-loved musicians in their prime: George Harrison, The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Joe Cocker et al. Atlman does not attempt to scratch away his subjects' veneer, instead putting them on a pedestal, almost deifying them. This is in one respect disappointing, but perhaps Altman is doing us a favor. At a time when we are constantly exposed to the private lives, flaws and lack of judgement of the people we are supposed to admire, it is refreshing that Altman keeps the human frailties of his subjects concealed. No one wants to know about the weaknesses of their heroes, and it would be particularly depressing to chip away at the aura surrounding legends like The Rolling Stones.

When Altman does suggest a more serious message, he does so insightfully, as evidenced in a double page spread of a demonstration in San Francisco, 1969. The sheer mass of people crammed into the frame gives a powerful impression of their unity and passion. The sharp focus on these in the foreground enables us to make out the emotion in their faces: an emotion that seems to reverberate to the back of the crowd, despite us not being able to decipher all of their faces.

The Sixties is an extraordinary testament to Altman's talent - there isn't a bad shot among them. It is a delight to leaf through a book that is not only full of exceptional photographs, but also oozes the optimism and vibrancy of the 1960s, just the way you'd imagine it to be."
Sally Harper
(May 2008)


BookPage - America's Book Review
"Robert Altman visually documented the changes that rocked the ’60s with a scope and clarity no one has surpassed. His remarkable photographs comprise the bulk of the compelling new collection, The Sixties" (Dec, 2007)


The Bloomsbury Review
"Altman has a professional portraitist's eye but can also capture the immediacy of situations; here, deliberate poses mix with candid snapshots. The combination registers a stamp of uniqueness, one of the best graphic depictions yet offered of this fleeting, illusory chapter of cultural history."


Publishers Weekly Review
"Those nostalgic for the free love era will revel in this handsome, oversized collection of photographs by celebrated photographer Altman. A master at catching his subjects at the moment of emotional overload-whether they be mischief makers, war protestors or musicians-the black and white photographs collected here are pure nostalgia, making a powerful you-are-there impression that simultaneously highlights the era's distance-chronologically and otherwise-from the current moment.

Altman's particular genius is best showcased in his legendary crowd scenes... Altman has always felt his purpose was to depict "the life and times that the Sixties inspired"; he succeeds beautifully with this, an impressive social document and a powerful remembrance."

"Robert Altman’s "The Sixties" takes me back to a time of comparative innocence. They make me feel good- these soulful reminders of a generation that dared and cared. When I showed the book to my teenage kids they sighed and wished they had been around to see the sixties themselves- what better applause to a photographer!"
Sam Cutler- former Rolling Stones tour manager/agent - co-manager of The Grateful Dead

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 "I just spent an incredible hour with Robert Altman. His photographs just blew my mind. I think he captured today the way Steichen captured yesterday..."

1969- Peter Max

Rolling Stone Book of Covers-Cover

Cover photograph by Robert Altman

 "Robert Altman's photography was instrumental in portraying the look and feeling and vitality of the Sixties."

Jann Wenner, Founder, Publisher - Rolling Stone


Website Contents

The Goodies!   Enter the Site
My Week    Words and pics column
Collectors Corner     Custom Silver Prints
Curriculum Vitae   What it is




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Updated June, 2017