Nothing Is Real: When the Beatles Met the East
Following the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), the Beatles—at that point the most famous band in the world—found themselves increasingly drawn to Eastern mysticism, culminating with the band’s 1968 trip to India (accompanied, of course, by wives and girlfriends as well as an entourage of friends, assistants and reporters). The journey that John, Paul, George and Ringo made to study at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram would become a key event in the history of Western pop culture: followed breathlessly in the international media, it caused an enormous stir and was fundamental in spreading a certain fascination with the East that influenced music, literature, cinema and fashion at the end of the 1960s. Nothing Is Real takes its title from a memorable line from the Beatles’ song “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Eastern thinking and spiritual practices felt liberating and modern to a generation looking for alternatives, and the Beatles’ trip was a watershed moment, announcing definitively that Europe and the United States had a genuine trend on its hands. Taking the Beatles’ 1968 journey as its point of departure, Nothing Is Realinvokes this extraordinary moment through contemporary reports, archival photographs, album covers, books and magazines from the period, and artworks by Ettore Sottsass, Alighiero Boetti, Francesco Clemente, Luigi Ontani, Aldo Mondino and Julian Schnabel.
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