Lithuanian Graphic Design in the 1960s and 1970s: Influences of Psychedelic Art
Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis
Keywords:psychedelic art, pop art, graphic design, poster art, illustration
Lithuanian artists who worked in the field of graphic design in the 1960s and 1970s were open to various influences and sought to create cutting-edge design. As global design trends reached Lithuania almost without delay at the end of the 1960s, graphic artists began to use various psychedelic forms. Wavy shapes were the most common stylistic feature, used as a universal way to represent uncertainty. Lithuanian graphic design was also characterized by contrasting colours and a combination of psychedelics and pop art. The first manifestations of psychedelic art appeared in 1969 in posters created by the artists Juozas Galkus and Jonas Varnas, and in the early 1970s in works by Giedrė Bulotaitė-Jurkūnienė, Irena Daukšaitė-Guobie- nė, Birutė Grabauskienė, Jonas Gudmonas, Vaclovas Kaminskas, Arvydas Každailis, Kastytis Skromanas, Algirdas Švažas, Miroslavas Znamerovskis, Vladislovas Žilius, Alfonsas Žvilius and others. Illustrations of children’s books were a particularly favourable medium for the expression of psyche- delic aesthetics, as they allowed the use of unusually bright colours as well as strange plots. Along with the spread of the influences of psychedelic art, a decorative ornamental art nouveau typography was revived. Some artists chose to create new fonts themselves. Hand-drawn letters gave graphic artists an opportunity to defy the conventional rules of typography and create an impression of carefreeness and lightness, so they were widely used for illustrations of pop music record sleeves, posters of pop concerts, youth literature or plays. In addition, the influence of psychedelic art encouraged artists to break the rules of typography and experiment with different font combinations. In Lithuanian graphic design, psychedelics were also used as a modern style that helped to actualize the traditions of folk art or to visualize communist ideology in a more attractive way. Although in some cases Lithuanian artists were directly copying the Western forms, in general, they interpreted psychedelic tendencies in an original way. Psychedelic design symbolized a rebellion against social norms in the West, while in Soviet Lithuania it meant creative liberation and an opportunity to contribute to the creation of the world’s visual language. Psychedelic art allowed designers to express the longing for liberation and experiences that went beyond everyday life.