Tracing My Conceptual Art Origins to Banana Splits and H.R. Pufnstuf 1960s

I liked the documentary about conceptual art itself the best in the BBC‘s conceptual art season, followed by the documentary about Dada, and then Bob Parks. That was probably the order of silliness or weirdness for a casual viewer too, so I think I’m at the more serious end of the spectrum.

My 1960s Roots

I was born in the mid-1960s, but we didn’t have a television until the early 1970s: I remember because we listened to the 1970 F.A. Cup Final on the radio, and went to a friend’s house to watch the 1970 World Cup Final.

However, one of my first favourite television programmes was The Banana Splits, which started in 1968. It had a madcap anthropomorphic rock band (I hadn’t remembered they were a rock band until looking them up on Wikipedia just now), and its genres are classed as ‘live action, animation, psychedelia, comedy and adventure’.

I think the genres are quite appropriate for my blogging and greenYgrey books. There’s no animation, but I originally described greenYgrey as a cross between Scooby Doo and Loki, and the former was one of my favourite cartoons. It probably also got me California Dreamin’.

I thought Scooby Doo was my earliest influence, but as archaeology is often finding new evidence to put the dates of life on our planet back, I think I need to put greenYgreyology’s influences back further too.

While I liked the Banana Splits live action, and anthropomorphic characters, I must admit that the cartoons were my favourite part of the show.

H.R. Pufnstuf: 1960s Influence

Banana Splits was made by the Krofft brothers, who also made H.R. Pufnstuf, another of my favourite early programmes, and possible 1960s influence on the greenYgrey and my travel quest books.

Wikipedia says: ‘H.R. Pufnstuf introduced the Kroffts’ most-used plot scenario: their fairy tale of good versus evil, as well as their second plot scenario: the stranger in a strange land.’

I think it is most relevant for the second of the trilogy, Werewolf of Oz, which was most inspired by Home children being sent to Commonwealth countries, with promises of oranges and sunshine, but usually ending up being abused and used. It also could be used as a warning against the grooming and trafficking epidemics of modern society.

Reading about it on Wikipedia, it also includes wordplay, such as the Kroffts saying H.R. stands for Royal Highness backwards. Funnily enough, I was thinking I should have explained to new or casual readers that Queen Kate Moss and Princess Kate are the Kate dynasty after the recent Royal Canada tour inclusion.

Live Action Too Wacky: Banana Splits, Comedy, Punk and Dada

I found the live Banana Splits action too wacky, as far as I can remember. That’s probably been a theme throughout my cultural preferences. Although I liked them all, I preferred new wave to punk, melodic rock to thrash and trance to techno.

Punk links the Banana Splits to the recent Dada documentary, because punk band The Dickies covered the theme song of the show in 1977:

Punk was said to have been possibly influenced by Dada art, such as in the use of photo montage. They both also included satire and parody of politicians, society and culture; conventions and logic; deconstructing society down to its constituent elements.

It was presented by Vic Reeves, whose comedy style I quite like, but is not one of my favourites, probably mirroring my musical tastes, where I like the more extreme occasionally, but usually prefer the more mainstream.

Terry Gilliam of Monty Python is in the documentary, and they are an example of my comedy tastes, as I much preferred the more mainstream films to the more anarchic television series. Although it did contain some great greenYgrey:


Gilliam said in the documentary how coincidental it is – after being shown a silly walk sketch from much earlier than when John Cleese popularised it.

Semiotics Writing more than Conceptual Art

It was my interest in 1960s society that inspired my interest in semiotics in university, focused on the philosophy of Roland Barthes. After being left with little supervision in the first year of my PhD I found semiotics, taking me in a different direction to the initial proposal, which got me into trouble at my upgrade meeting, delaying it a couple of years. That’s what my upgrade tutors said anyway.

By the time I had finished my PhD I viewed some of the tutors as only being in it for themselves or favoured theme, although portraying themselves as being in it for the greater good, so I thought I might as well write semiotics-style literary nonsense, which led me to where I am now. They deconstruct society and defy logic the same way as conceptual art.

It’s the way my mind works anyway, as a contrary, always looking for alternative meanings and explanations, willing to look for the good in the portrayed bad, and thinking there is a negative side to the portrayed good. That’s why I’m better at being a critical writer than a conformist one; more counterculture than mainstream; more hippY than yuppie; more spaghetti western than traditional.

However, in contrast to my contrariness, my taste in women is the standard model of beauty; or the 1960s in particular, returning to the decade for more inspiration, when Brigitte Bardot and Twiggy were icons of slim and stylish freedom.

Was my mind set by society, or was it structured before that, or has it just been adapting to the new. I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that Debbie Harry struck a particular cord when she appeared on the scene with Denis in 1978.

The freedom and strength she oozes is also an inspiration for my feminism with a small f.

Final Conceptual Art Coincidence

I’m not a big fan of modern art, and admittedly have usually made fun of it more than appreciated it. I can see that the idea is more important than the aesthetic, and think that its probably like sports that are more fun playing than watching: more chess than football.

Maybe you think the same about my conceptual art, such as greenYgrey readYmades? Hopefully they entertain you anyway, and perhaps make you think… of coincidence?

There was a big coincidence between my watching of the Who’s Afraid of Conceptual Art? and Gaga for Dada documentaries, as I returned to reading the June issue of Spectator magazine after a few months, and found I was in the middle of a review of the book: Artrage! The Story of the BritArt Revolution by Stephen Bayley.

Available to buy or borrow on Amazon and some great big bookshops.


One thought on “Tracing My Conceptual Art Origins to Banana Splits and H.R. Pufnstuf 1960s

  1. Pingback: Transylvania Comedy Vampire Rock Music Fantasy Travel Quest | greenygrey3

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