"1980’s Revisited" Exhibition

Skarstedt Gallery

poster for "1980’s Revisited" Exhibition

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Skarstedt Gallery presents the exhibition 1980’s Revisited, featuring iconic works by the most influential artists of the decade including, George Condo, Carroll Dunham, Robert Gober, Jenny Holzer, Mike Kelley, Sherrie Levine, Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, David Salle and Cindy Sherman. 30 years later, 1980’s Revisited serves as a time capsule, reflecting the iconography that has come to represent the complex and competing movements that defined the New York art scene during the 80’s, including Appropriation, Neo-Expressionism and Graffiti art.

Jeff Koons’ One Ball Total Equilibrium is one of the most significant contributions from the 1980’s exploring the legacy of the Pop Art movement and Appropriation. Created in 1985 for his first solo show on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the pristine tank, with Spalding basketball impossibly positioned, elegantly summarizes the previous decades’ focus on minimal abstract sculpture, while newly exploring the idea of using ready-made objects as the basis for sculpture.

Similarly, in Mike Kelley’s Arena #11 (Book Bunny), 1990, found objects, including a plush bunny, a thesaurus, and two Raid cans, are carefully arranged in a sculptural tableau. Like Duchamp before him, Kelley’s direct appropriation of readymade objects questions the myth of originality and authorial voice within artistic practice. The constructed Arena plays into the viewer’s inclination to project onto objects so imbued with childhood memory. Subverting the concept of the ready-made, Robert Gober’s Drain, 1989, reverses the use of the found object as the artist makes painstaking efforts to hand-make an ordinary object.

Richard Prince’s re-photographed picture of a young Brooke Shields Spiritual America, 1983, is arguably the most controversial work of art from the 80’s. The artwork was originally exhibited alone, in a temporary Lower East Side gallery space. The illicit subject matter, and concurrent lawsuit over the image’s ownership rights, drew a crowd whose intentions were far more voyeuristic than artistic, revealing the power of desire in the consumer culture so dominant in the 1980s.

The term Neo-Expressionism came to describe a diverse group of artists whose work was characterized by a pre-occupation with the mass-media, fashion, and sexuality. In Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #138 the artist takes a photograph of herself dressed up as a fashion victim, commenting female stereotypes and appropriating the male viewpoint. Jenny Holzer employed the L.E.D synonymous with the Times Square news ticker for Survival, 1983-1985. Holzer’s iconic L.E.D signs represented a new way to make political commentary and gender issues an implicit part of everyday life.

The1980’s also saw graffiti redefined as fine art. George Condo first made a name for himself in the East Village in the Eighties, alongside Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. In his Untitled work from1985, Condo riffs on street-scrawl creating a graphic all-over motif using a sable brush the size of an ink pen in this highly detailed expanding canvas.

[Image: Jeff Koons "One Ball Total Equilibrium" (1985) Glass, steel, sodium chloride reagant, 64x30x13in.]


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