"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
The Royal Photographic Society
"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
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."
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