FAST FORWARDPAINTING FROM THE 1980s

Many artists actively embraced the medium of painting,
exploring its bold physicality and unique capacity for expression.

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Moira Dryer (1957 – 1992) Portrait of a Fingerprint, 1988.  Whitney Museum of American Art, New York;
gift of Barbara and Eugene Schwartz 94.58 © Estate of Moira Dryer

 

The exhibition, presented by The Whitney Museum of American Art, takes a focused look at painting from a decade associated with the arrival of new media and the rapid growth of the contemporary art world. In the 1980s, painting recaptured the imagination of the contemporary art world against a backdrop of expensive change. During this explosive period, an unprecedented number of galleries appeared on the scene, particularly in downtown New York. New media, such video and installation art, was on the rise and both museums and galleries presented an array of ambitious and provocative exhibitions. Yet, despite other mediums such as photography and video gaining traction, many artists actively embraced the medium of painting, exploring its bold physicality and unique capacity for expression and innovation. Fast Forward: Painting from the 1980s offers a focused look at painting from this decade with works drawn entirely from the Museum’s collection; the exhibition will be own view in the Museum’s eight-floor Hurst Family Galleries from January 27 to May 14, 2017, featuring works by artists often identified with the 1980s-Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sherrie Levine, David Salle and Julian Schnabel-as well as by a significant number of less celebrated painters. Often through exuberant work that engaged with the heroic gesture of pop imagery, these artists explored the traditions of figuration and history painting, and offered new interpretation of abstraction. Many addressed fundamental questions about art-making in their work, while others took on political issues including AIDS, feminism, gentrification, and war. Far from dead, artists renegotiated their commitment to painting in the 1980s, and in the face of a media-saturated environment. The medium suddenly came to represent an important intersection between new ways of seeing and a seemingly traditional way of making art-one full of possibility and thriving as many artists actively re-imagined what painting could be.

 

NEW MEDIA, SUCH VIDEO AND INSTALLATION ART,
WAS ON THE RISE AND BOTH MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES PRESENTED AN ARRAY OF
AMBITIOUS AND PROVOCATIVE EXHIBITIONS.