Visual Art: The Sixties: It Wasn't All Op, Pop and Flares You Know ; Six from the Sixties Flowers East LONDON
Darwent, Charles, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
And so to the 1960s, a decade whose history is being busily rewritten 40 years on. Where platforms and flares were unpardonably kitsch a few years ago, they are now proof of an era more innocent/ idealistic/ radical* (*delete as applicable) than the world has known. Flares have become the Sixties, though not everybody wore them and other things that were worn have been carefully cropped from the picture.
Sixties art, too, has been cut to fit the 21st-century cloth, being reduced to the handful of ex post facto geniuses - Caulfield, Blake, Jones, Hamilton - included in the Tate's current "This Was Tomorrow" show. Other artists have been allowed in for sure, but only if they back up historical orthodoxy. Those parts of their ouevres that can't be shrunk to fit the neat development of Op or Pop have been edited out of "This Was Tomorrow", leaving the world a tidier, if not a more scrupulous place. "Doing your own thing" - the warcry of 1960s art - has been translated into doing the Tate's own thing; which may strike you as anachronistic, or possibly as worse.
If so, then I'd suggest you hop on a bus to a small show called Six from the Sixties at Flowers East gallery in Hoxton. This is not because the exhibition is particularly broad - the work in it has been borrowed from the gallery's back stock - nor because its pictures - it's a painting show - are especially good. (Some of them are awful.) But it is certainly not the kind of art you're allowed to see at Tate Britain, which alone makes the show worth a visit. …