Compared with other upheavals of the 1960s, artistic activity seems almost tame. During the 1960s Americans were confronted with a broad range of pressing social issues, and creative artists of the decade responded by voicing their concerns. Writers spoke out against the Vietnam War, and scores of black artists and writers, guided by what they called the Black Aesthetic, forged a Black Arts Movement that urged promotion of black values and causes through art. Popular music of the era evolved from the dance music rock 'n' roll of the 1950s to socially conscious folk music and rock music with lyrics of protest and frustration. The 1960s were a decade of free expression. It was the message that mattered for many. Others, though, frustrated by the futility of encouraging social reform, adopted a nihilistic approach. Notable sculptors, artists, dancers, musicians, and writers, acting independently of one another, came at the same time to one of two conclusions: either that nothing mattered but form or that only absurd responses were possible to world problems. Both positions provided the ultimate creative refuge from seemingly insoluble is-sues.
Perhaps the quietest revolution in the arts during the 1960s occurred in photography, which gained greater acceptance as an art form during the decade. This increased respect...
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