February 13, 2014

Fort Worth, TX


Kendal Smith Lake

Manager of Communications

817.738.9215 x167

817.735.1161 fax


Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth Presents

URBAN THEATER: NEW YORK ART IN THE 1980s (title updated 4/8/14)

September 21, 2014–January 4, 2015


URBAN THEATER: NEW YORK ART IN THE 1980s will be on view to the public at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth from September 21, 2014, through January 4, 2015. The exhibition is organized by Michael Auping, Chief Curator of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Special exhibitions are included in general Museum admission: $10 for adults; $4 for seniors (60+) and students with identification; free for children 12 and under; free for Modern members.


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.

NEW YORK IN THE 1980s: URBAN THEATER 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, Troy Brauntuch, Francesco Clemente, Eric Fischl, Nan Goldin, Jack Goldstein, Peter Halley, Keith Haring, 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.       



A fully illustrated publication, URBAN THEATER: NEW YORK ART IN THE 1980s, will document this ambitious exhibition. This volume will be richly illustrated with works by the painters, photographers, and sculptors featured in the exhibition. Selected artists’ writings and original essays provide context and highlight common themes in the works. Michael Auping, the Modern’s Chief Curator and the organizer of the exhibition, explores the subject of “theatricality” as it was first employed by Michael Fried to criticize Minimalism in the late 1960s and the magnification of the theatrical in the 1980s.  The Modern’s Curator Andrea Karnes addresses gender as it becomes a critical subject during the decade.  The Modern’s Assistant Curator Alison Hearst explores the changing character of “abstraction” during the ’80s.


A central section of the book will be devoted to provocative texts and interviews by the artists, revealing their thoughts and sources in regard to making art in New York in the ’80s.  Many photographs of artists and events that helped define the period will be included. The book and the exhibition form a cultural portrait of the multiple forces that shaped the New York art world in the 1980s.    



Michael Auping is well-known as a curator and scholar of modern and contemporary art. As commissioner of the American Pavilion at the 1990 Venice Biennale, his installation of the work of Jenny Holzer won Best National Participation. His compelling exhibition Francesco Clemente debuted at the Ringling Museum of Art in 1985 and traveled to the Walker Art Center, the Dallas Museum of Art, the University Art Museum at the University of California, Berkeley, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Auping also served as co-curator of the 2000 Whitney Biennial. As Chief Curator of the Modern, Auping has organized many important exhibitions, including Georg Baselitz: Portraits of Elke; Agnes Martin/Richard Tuttle; Anselm Kiefer: Heaven and Earth; Declaring Space: Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein; and Ed Ruscha: Road Tested, to name a few. His book 30 Years: Interviews and Outtakes includes conversations with thirty-two artists, including Bruce Nauman, Martin Puryear, Bill Viola, John Chamberlain, Cai Guo-Qiang, Jess, Ellsworth Kelly, and Richard Long.


For a checklist and high-resolution images, please e-mail




Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

3200 Darnell Street

Fort Worth, Texas 76107

Telephone 817.738.9215

Toll-Free 1.866.824.5566

Fax 817.735.1161


Museum Gallery Hours

Tue 10 am-7 pm (Sep-Nov, Feb-Apr)

Tue-Sun 10 am-5 pm

Fri 10 am-8 pm


General Admission Prices (includes special exhibition)

$4 for students with ID and seniors (60+)

$10 for adults (13+)

Free for children 12 and under

Free for Modern members

Free the first Sunday of every month and half-price every Wednesday.




Tue-Fri 11 am-2:30 pm


Sat-Sun 10 am-3 pm


Fri 5-8:30 pm

Coffee, snacks, and dessert

10 am-4:30 pm



The Museum is closed Monday and holidays including New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas.


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