The term “Baby Boomer” came from the fact that in the first year of the baby boom, 1946, there were about 2.4 million babies born, by the end of the era in 1964 there about 72.5 million baby boomers. An interesting fact is that Bill Clinton was the first baby boomer to serve as president and George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump are all baby boomers. To be classified as a baby boomer you have to have been born between 1946 and 1964. Other famous baby boomers were Denzel Washington, Oprah Winfrey, Meryl Streep, Mel Gibson, Dolly Pardon, Stephen King, Cher and Ellen DeGeneres.
This generation grew up in the suburbs during postwar prosperity, they grew up dealing with death rates, drunken driving, suicide, illegitimate births, unemployment and crime rates doubling or tripling. They were a generation that wanted to be the opposite of the silent generation, they didn’t want to sit quiet and not make wave, they wanted to participate and create. They wanted to play music, do drugs, and be sexually promiscuous.
They wanted a revolution of values, lifestyles and entertainment.
Big life changing event that happened during that time were things like the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, MLK Jr and Malcom X; Watergate, death of Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, moon landing, Vietnam war, Roe v Wade, Woodstock, civil rights movement, birth control color tv, star trek, and Star Wars. In the world of art, you had four movements that were significant to not only that time but on later generations, Post Painterly Abstraction or Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, Op Art and Pop Art.
Abstract Expressionism started in 1946 and ended in 1956, it was the first American artistic movement that influenced artists all over the world. It was called “action painting”, it was the idea that the physical act of painting was just as important as the result.
Frank Stella, Hyena Stomp, 1962 embraced a huge range of artists that weren’t necessarily abstract or expressionistic. A new abstract art grew out of it in 1956 called Post Painterly Abstraction. The photo to the left was painted by Frank Stella called “Hyena Stomp” in 1962, he was influential in the post painterly abstraction movement. The photo to the right is a painting by Jackson (Jackson Pollock, Full Fathom Five, 1947) Pollock called “Full Fathom Five”, in 1947. He took a canvas and used nails, coins, buttons, cigarettes and other things to paint on the canvas. Other artists influential to both movements were Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Kenneth Nolan, Morris Lewis and Helen Frankenthaler.
The photo to the right is a small piece of a larger artwork done by Andy Warhol called “Campbell’s Soup Cans” in 1962. Pop Art is an artistic movement that grew out of the consumer culture that dominated the Baby Boomer Generation. Pop Artists wanted to imitate styles, methods and themes of pop culture and mass media. They would use things like comic strips, advertising and science fiction to create new and sometime controversial artworks.
The photo to the left is called Fall by Bridget Riley in 1963. The style of art she used is call Op Art, it is art that creates crazy and stunning optical illusions. It is an art that can be traced back many years but the current style came from artist Victor Vasarely. He explored the effects he could create and his work eventually attracted other artists and followers around the world, artists like Bridget Riley. Op art lost popularity around 1968, though the style is still used in modern day art.
The baby boomer generation had such an impact on society, culture and politics, not just in America but around the world. They fought for many freedoms that we enjoy today. Freedom to marry who we want, the right to not be persecuted for the color of our skin, the right to women to be treated equal and the right for women to control their own bodies. The rights for African Americans to have equal rights as a white man or woman, and amazing advancement s in technology like color tv and more than one or two tv shows. Art took a major step forward also, spring boarding on the rapid advancement of technology and industry.