V&A acquires controversial counterculture Oz archives

Oz was a revolutionary underground magazine produced in a basement flat in London’s Notting Hill from 1967 to 1973. It sought to challenge the establishment and encapsulate the spirit of counter-culture. To mark its fifty-year anniversary, the V&A, with support from Art Fund, has acquired the Felix Dennis Oz Archive.

Cover artwork by Martin Sharp for Oz #16 - The Magic Theatre Issue, November 1968 ©Estate of Martin Sharp
Cover artwork by Martin Sharp for Oz #16, The Magic Theatre Issue 1968 © Estate of Martin Sharp

 

Oz had three editors – Richard Neville, Jim Anderson and Felix Dennis. It covered controversial yet topical subjects from gay rights to racism, the environment, feminism, sex, the pill, acid, rock music and the Vietnam War. The magazine was renowned for its psychedelic covers by pop artist Martin Sharp, cartoons by Robert Crumb, radical feminist thought by Germaine Greer and provocative articles that called into question established norms of the time. The Oz archives remain one of the most important records of 20th century counter-cultural revolution.

Oz Obscenity Trial campaign image design with mark-up, 1971 © V&A
Oz Obscenity Trial campaign image design with mark-up, 1971 © Victoria & Albert Museum, London

 

The Felix Dennis archive recounts the magazine’s kaleidoscopic history across its 48 issues, and chronicle one of the most politically and socially revolutionary periods in modern history. The collection is currently being catalogued and digitised by the V&A, and highlights will feature in a forthcoming display tracing a history of British censorship, opening in summer 2018.

 

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