Celebrating Woodstock: Forty Year’s On

This Woodstock Poster sold for $375 at Rago Estate and Fine Art Division in 2003
This Woodstock Poster sold for $375 at Rago Estate and Fine Art Division in 2003

I was born before Woodstock, but certainly not long before. I’m not sure given the opportunity I would trade being older for being able to attend Woodstock, but still it is undeniably one of the last century’s defining events.

Those were different times.

Today it still amazes me that 350,000 people descended on a farm in upstate New York. Remember there were no text messages, cell phones, email, Twitter or Facebook. Yasgar’s Farm is also not exactly the National Mall, or in a major city and accessible location. Yet there was something that lured young people to attend.

It’s not the most attended event ever, but it may be one of the last events to draw so many. The 1893 World’s Columbia Exposition is estimated to have drawn half the U.S. population at the time, 27 million people. It lasted longer, six months as opposed to three days, but even broken down per day, my estimates say this 1893 Exposition drew more than Woodstock.

One might argue there was a lot more to see in Chicago, and the folks in 1893 didn’t have the competition from television and movies to compete. These comparisons seem silly the more explored they are, however. Beyond the number of attendees, Woodstock was, I think, born of a frustration with an outlook on life, the World’s Columbia Exhibition was a celebration of it.

There are lots of collectibles from Woodstock, posters from the event and movie, brochures, tickets and even paintings. Now a newly-released Woodstock 40th Anniversary poster created by Arnold Skolnick, designer of the iconic 1969 poster is available.

Skolnick says the original poster was no accident. “The client said he wanted the event to be ‘peaceful, three days long and a lot of music’ so that’s what I gave him,” His design was the perfect solution to a licensing problem that required the festival to be relocated at the last moment from Walkill to Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York. The psychedelic and countercultural tone of the aborted venue’s initial poster was replaced by Skolnick’s more subdued and peaceful message so the event would not be banned again– thus creating a unique rock poster for the ages.

The new poster is available from www.internationalposter.com

About Eric Miller

Eric Miller is co-founder and contributor to Urban Art & Antiques. His website is ericmiller.me

1 comments

To define a bit your point about the frustration of the people at the time…it was definitely a part of it all…but not all…of it.

It was also, at least to me one of those times in history where there was a wild optimism that a voice or “The Peoples Voice” might have a chance to be heard.

…through music
…through poetry
…through protest

And to some extent they were heard, those crazy hippies, and they managed to be a big part of what ended a war, and so on.

Thank You

Martin

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