Memoir

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1960s America

In the summer of 1968 Topolski visited America to bear witness to a tumultuous period in the country’s history.

It was a year in which civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King and US presidential candidate Robert Kennedy had been assassinated and there were widespread protests against American involvement in Vietnam and in favour of civil rights. Topolski went to Chicago where the Democratic Party was holding its National Convention. This had become a focus for anti-war and civil rights demonstrations and there were repeated clashes between protestors and police. The Mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley, gained notoriety for his hard-line attitude to the demonstrators — his face is depicted at the centre.

In the Century, Topolski has painted a series of contrasting scenes which he witnessed in Chicago. He shows police violence against protestors in Grant Park, and below this a group of hippy demonstrators asleep in the park. This is set against events inside the Convention, itself surrounded by armed guards, the hall filled with American flags, the banners of different states and all the razzmatazz of American politics. In the final panel, Topolski shows protestors outside the Convention Hall, including members of the high profile, counter-culturalYouth International Party, known as ‘Yippies’

.