The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth presents URBAN THEATER: NEW YORK ART IN THE 1980s. Vibrant, vital, and discordant, the New York art scene of the 1980s gave rise to some of the contemporary art world’s most recognizable features. As the artists who emerged in that decade now set records at auction, the era is ripe to be reexamined. Representing in turns a cool irony, reflections on media culture, consumerism, cartoons, and street art, the work collected here re-creates the tense energy of a grittier New York.
Chief Curator Michael Auping says, “I’ve experienced over four decades in the art world, and the ’80s in New York was the wildest. Of course, what happened in the ’80s happened everywhere—Cologne/Düsseldorf, London, Paris, LA—but I think most people who were around thought New York was the loudest and the most intense. There were so many strong, competing agendas: the Pictures Generation and appropriation, the “Bad Boys” of expressionist painting, graffiti, a new generation of feminists. And, of course, there was a very robust art market fueling the galleries. If you wonder why the art world is like it is today, refer to the ’80s. That’s where it began.”
Over 25,000 square feet of exhibition space will be devoted to the exhibition, presenting iconic works that capture the mood, energy, and critical themes that distinguished the art of the 1980s in one of the world’s greatest urban centers.
During this decade, New York was the center for the development of a new synthesis of media and ideas about the relationship between art and popular culture. It was also a city that inspired a new audaciousness in the art and the art market that would follow.
URBAN THEATER: NEW YORK ART IN THE 1980s will examine this context and decade through a broad range of media, including painting, performance, sculpture, photography, and installation.
Iconic works by the decade’s most critically acclaimed artists will be presented. Among those artists included will be Laurie Anderson, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ross Bleckner, Francesco Clemente, Eric Fischl, Peter Halley, Keith Haring, Nan Goldin, Jenny Holzer, Jeff Koons, Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine, Robert Longo, Robert Mapplethorpe, Allan McCollum, Richard Prince, David Salle, Kenny Scharf, Julian Schnabel, Cindy Sherman, Donald Sultan, Philip Taaffe, Andy Warhol, and Christopher Wool.
Special gallery installations will juxtapose the diverse and competing aesthetics that were the topical subjects of magazine articles, as well as museum and gallery shows during the ’80s: the “Bad Boys” of painting, feminist conceptualism, appropriation and the Pictures Generation, “abstraction and culture,” political activism, the graffiti movement, and Warhol and the decade of art celebrity.