During the 1980s, New York City teemed with cultural activity—and new venues and mediums for art. Rough-hewn streets still bore the traces of the economic collapse of the 1970s, and many artists responded to urban blight, economic inequality, and the first wave of the AIDS pandemic. At the same time, artists took on the glittering excesses of commodity culture—in a city seen as the finance capital of the world—and the global expansion of the art market. Some, such as Sherrie Levine, even forecasted the end of art itself. Creating work for a growing network of galleries, studios, and storefronts, these artists engaged their local communities and neighborhoods, but they also probed their own personal and private lives. They depicted their friends and lovers, their anxieties and desires—and invented new forms of sculpture and image-making for a changing landscape.
Organized by Michelle Kuo, The Marlene Hess Curator, and Paulina Pobocha, Associate Curator, with Lydia Mullin, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture, and Gee Wesley, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Media and Performance.