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    Artwork of the 80's


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    Artwork of the 80's

    Post by maxim9691 on Mon Oct 18, 2010 1:58 pm

    Many firsthand observers of the 80s art scene cite first and foremost the sheer numbers of young artists attempting to break into the gallery scene during the decade. The postwar baby boom, which peaked in 1959, led to an outpouring of art-school grads in the early 80s. Artist/curator Peter Nagy, who, with Alan Belcher, opened the East Village gallery Nature Morte in 1982, comments: "Sometimes it seems as though a majority of my generation, having grown up in the fertile 60s, pursued careers in the creative arts, and the New York art world simply couldn't accommodate this glut of brash, snot-nosed artists eager to exhibit their goods, and consequently burst at the seams. Second, the boom market enabled a generation of artist-entrepreneurs not only to start their own galleries but to keep their doors open and flourish." (Artforum, 10/99) Like many other artists of the era, Nagy was influenced by such alternative spaces and happenings as Collaborative Project's (Colab) "Times Square Show," the lower East Side gallery ABC No Rio, and the Bronx space Fashion Moda, all venues and organizations who showed how art world success could be achieved —at least for a short time—outside the boundaries of Soho's established commercial scene. (see East Village) The artists of Colab were an essential force behind much of the non-mainstream activity, many of them pointedly choosing an anti-commodity stance, instead exploring political and media critiques, conceptual performance, and process-as-art—clearly inspired by such forerunners as Vito Acconci and Joseph Beuys. The Colab-organized Times Square Show, in particular, was considered a watershed exhibition, featuring hundreds of artists (including very early appearances by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jenny Holzer, Kiki Smith and others) and nightly performances, and inspiring many other exhibitions in disused buildings and other unconventional sites. Established alternative spaces such as P.S. 1 (in Queens), the Kitchen, and the New Museum quickly picked up on the new energy, hosting events of their own. Clubs such as CBGB, Max's Kansas City, The Pyramid Lounge, and Palladium, among others, became hosting spaces for installations and performances. A pre-80s exhibition, Pictures, presented at the alternative venue Artists Space in 1977, was considered an essential statement on representation in contemporary artwork. The artists included were Troy Brauntuch, Jack Goldstein, Sherrie Levine, Robert Longo, and Philip Smith, many of whom became involved in the 1981 formation of Metro Pictures, one of the era's most important commercial galleries. By 1987, almost all of the hundreds of East Village galleries had closed and their artists had either moved on to Soho or disappeared into obscurity. In the meantime, the commercial art scene had been energized by the emergence of well-hyped power-brokering dealers like Mary Boone and the popularity of painters such as Julian Schnabel, David Salle, Georg Baselitz, Ross Bleckner, Sandro Chia, and others connected with the Neo-Expressionist movement. Art auction houses began recording record prices, both for established names and younger artists, as new collectors, recently enriched by a stock market boom, started buying. For a variety of reasons, it seemed as though contemporary art as a commodity was worthy of mainstream media attention, as attested to by such articles as the New York Times Magazine's "New Art, New Money," 2/85, and "Portrait of the Artist as a Money Man," Forbes, 2/82. Major museum exhibitions from the decade that provided authority to the emerging artists and movements include1981's A New Spirit in Painting at the Royal Academy in London,1982's Zeitgeist in Berlin; 1982's Transavantguardia in Modena, Italy; and 1984's Difference: On Representation and Sexuality at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. The Whitney Biennials and Venice Bienales of the decade were also important showcases. Despite the opening and closing of countless galleries, the flurry of media attention, the landmark exhibitions, and the record auction prices that mark this decade, there is no conclusive critical judgment on the 80s. Many of the artists who emerged in the 80s remain important in the 21st century, but many more decades will have to pass before the lasting impact of 80s art can finally be assessed.

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