Inspiring Art of The 80’s
Progress and Inspiration of Art in the 80’s
The art world of the 1980s was a place of artistic diversity and aesthetic controversy. Neo-expressionists battled for theoretical (and commercial) position with abstract painters, installation and performance artists, visual artists and others alike. Very little in comparison was as it seemed.
The Gallery of Art at Washington University in St. Louis revisits the 80’s with American Art of the 1980s: Selections from the Broad Collections. The exhibition includes 14 major paintings and sculptures by 11 renowned and sometimes controversial artists, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ross Bleckner, Eric Fischl, Jack Goldstein, Keith Haring, Jeff Koons, Sherrie Levine, Robert Longo, David Salle, Julian Schnabel and Mark Tansey to name a few.
“Over the last four decades, Eli and Edythe Broad have built one of the world’s most important collections of modern and contemporary art, including works by some of our provocative artists,” said Mark S. Weil, Ph.D., ”American Art of the 1980s presents a rare opportunity to explore themes and trends not otherwise available in St. Louis public collections.”
Other major paintings on view include Longo’s iconic Untitled (White Riot Series), Tansey’s deadpan Four Forbidden Senses (Taste, Sound, Smell, Touch) (1982) and Haring’s massive Red Room (1988).
“Due to their figurative nature, these works appear easily accessible, yet in fact address the problem of establishing fixed meaning in the postmodern era,” Eckmann said. “They provoke us to reconsider the position, capacity and role of figuration at the end of the 20th century.”
Abstract painting too grew increasingly rebellious. Bleckner’s glowing Brothers’ Sword (1986) suggests a sense of almost religious transcendence, yet also is a political statement of support for AIDS victims. The violent, colorful burst of Goldstein’s Untitled (1988) recalls the spontaneity of abstract expressionism, yet its cool tone and glossy shine mysteriously reveal the painting’s photographic insight.
“In order to engage with these artworks, we may best understand them as postmodern allegories reflecting a fragmented and compartmentalized world,” Eckmann concluded. “These utterly ambivalent artworks address various strands of modernist art — figurative painting, high art, the spectacle — in order to question and eventually bury those approaches.”
An intimate conversation with Eli Broad who, after creating shareholder wealth by providing vital homebuilding and retirement savings services through the two Fortune 500 companies he created — KB Home and SunAmerica, Inc.— now devotes his time, energy and resources to philanthropy. Broad and his wife, Edythe, are the founders of The Broad Foundation, with the mission of advancing entrepreneurship for the public good in education, science and the arts.
When Eli Broad started his own real estate business in Detroit, he couldn’t have imagined that in five decades he’d be number one in the field, the 3rd richest person in Los Angeles — according to Forbes — and, together with his wife Edythe, one of the most active philanthropists in the U.S. as well as a passionate art collector. Talk about a success story, what an inspiration! Eli Broad certainly played a big role in determining the direction of visual and performing arts of the 1980’s and beyond.
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