Irwin Klein and the New Settlers


Irwin Klein and the New Settlers

Photographs of Counterculture in New Mexico

Edited by Benjamin Klein
With essays by David Farber, Tom Fels, Tim Hodgdon, Benjamin Klein, and Lois Rudnick
Foreword by Daniel Kosharek
Introduction by Michael William Doyle

192 pages
80 photographs, 12 figures


June 2016


$29.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

June 2016


$29.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Dropouts, renegades, utopians. Children of the urban middle class and old beatniks living alone, as couples, in families, or as groups in the small Nuevomexicano towns. When photographer Irwin Klein began visiting northern New Mexico in the mid-1960s, he found these self-proclaimed New Settlers—and many others—in the back country between Santa Fe and Taos. His black-and-white photographs captured the life of the counterculture’s transition to a social movement. His documentation of these counterculture communities has become well known and sought after for both its sheer beauty and as a primary source about a largely undocumented group.

By blending Klein’s unpublished work with essays by modern scholars, Benjamin Klein (Irwin’s nephew) creates an important contribution to the literature of the counterculture and especially the 1960s. Supporting essays emphasize the importance of a visual record for interpreting this lifestyle in the American Southwest. Irwin Klein and the New Settlers reinforces the photographer’s reputation as an astute observer of back-to-the-land, modern-day Emersonians whose communes represented contemporary Waldens.

Author Bio

The work of Irwin Klein (1933–74) is archived in the permanent collections of the George Eastman House, the Museum of Modern Art, the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives in Santa Fe. Benjamin Klein, Irwin’s nephew, teaches European and world history at California State University, East Bay. His articles on the counterculture have appeared in the New Mexico Historical Review and Casa Vogue


"The 80 photos published in Irwin Klein and the New Settlers: Photographs of Counterculture in New Mexico offer a stunning glimpse into an American subculture."—Paul Weideman, Pasatiempo

"A must read."—Rio Grande Sun

"Klein's photographs embrace how critical not only time and place but also community are to shaping cultural identity."—The Magazine

"For anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the idealism, hardships, and spirited nonconformity of the hippie tribe, Irwin Klein and the New Settlers: Photographs of Counterculture in New Mexico is a must-read—must view, really."—Charles C. Poling & Cindra Kline, New Mexico Magazine

"Irwin Klein and the New Settlers, offers gritty insight into a harsher landscape of bohemian lifestyle."—Christina Waters, Good Times

"Irwin Klein and the New Settlers contributes meaningfully to our understanding of how the counterculture movement played out in New Mexico, its successes and failures, and the people who formed it."—David Pike, H-New Mexico

"Irwin Klein and the New Settlers is a fascinating look into the counterculture of northern New Mexico in the late 1960s and early 1970s. . . . The volume should find a welcome place on both bookshelf and coffee table."—Thomas B. Weyant, H-1960s

"An important visual contribution to the growing body of counterculture scholarship."—Christopher A. Huff, Agricultural History

"Irwin Klein and the New Settlers provides the reader with sensitively taken and beautifully printed images taken with Klein’s practiced and capable eye."—Communal Societies

“This is an evocative photo essay of the early counterculture in New Mexico. Excellent images that are enlightening.”—John Nichols, author of The Milagro Beanfield War and If Mountains Die: A New Mexico Memoir  

“[This book] reveals Irwin Klein as a perceptive interpreter of the countercultural movement as it played out in northern New Mexico in the late 1960s. Klein’s photographs of the New Settlers, which he referred to as ‘part family album’ . . . complement his grittier, darker New York City photos taken at roughly the same time, showing Klein to be an unheralded chronicler of American life.”—Stephen C. Pinson, curator, Department of Photographs, Metropolitan Museum of Art 

“Visually stunning. . . . Given the rarity and beauty of its photographs and its lively and accessible commentary, this work will be of value to sixties and communal studies scholars, regional and visual historians, archivists, photography enthusiasts, and anyone with a rebel’s heart.”—Gretchen Lemke, author of Daughters of Aquarius

“A bevy of telling black-and-white images that provides the viewer with the opportunity to almost become the settler’s neighbor or the proverbial fly on the wall. . . . A worthy, elegant body of work emerges.”—Robert Altman, former chief staff photographer for Rolling Stone and author of The Sixties 

“No one captured the spirit and essence of the ’60s southwest American communes better than Irwin Klein. With a Leica, black-and-white film, and natural lighting, he created an authentic artistic record of this unique and short-lived period of back-to-the-land ’60s idealism.”—Lloyd Kahn, editor of Shelter Publications, Inc.

“Irwin Klein’s photographs masterfully illuminate facets of life in northern New Mexico’s countercultural communes of the 1960s and 1970s. They capture the hippies’ celebration of life and love and their rejection of convention and materialism, as well as their progression from fanciful dreaming to the realities of subsistence farming in a starkly beautiful but unforgiving, hardscrabble setting. The accompanying interpretive essays enhance the value of the photographs by offering historical, cultural, and artistic insights.”—Brian Cannon, director of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies

Table of Contents

List of Photographs
Daniel Kosharek
Preface and Acknowledgments
Michael William Doyle
From Innocence to Experience: Irwin B. Klein and the New Settlers of Northern New Mexico
Benjamin Klein and Tim Hodgdon
The Great Hippie Invasion
Lois Rudnick
El Rito and the Power of Place in Sixties America
David Farber and Benjamin Klein
The New Settlers of New Mexico Photographs, 1967–1971
1. The Valley—Settlement
2. Independence Day Celebration—The Hog Farm
3. The Village Settlement
4. Five Star Commune
5. Light & Dark
6. The Hills
7. The Farm
8. Visits
9. Wedding Celebration New Buffalo Commune
Tom Fels


2016 Southwest Book Award from the Border Regional Library Association

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