The 80s

The 80s


The decade of greed, hostile takeovers, rising share prices and junk bonds. Reagan raises the stakes in the cold war, ending in the fall of the Berlin Wall, heralding German re-unification and the demise of the Soviet Union.

Turning against minimalism, the eighties see a return to more expressive forms of art. The German "Neuen Wilden" (roughly translatable as "The New Wild Ones") search for emotional intensity in their paintings, rejecting art history and intellectual conceptualism, clearly wanting to provoke the art establishment.

Gerhard Richter is a main exponent of the period. He was seen as a "conceptual painter" - or a painter whose paintings are statements about ideas for painting. Art experts now consider him a master of the "deconstruction" of the formal conventions of painting.

In the US, Keith Haring combines Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art with Graffiti while Jean-Michel Basquiat expresses life in New York ghettos using a naive, imaginative language. Jeff Koons exaggerates Warhol's Pop Art tradition and flirts with kitsch.

Photography becomes increasingly popular, with Cindy Sherman taking pictures of herself in various guises and different persona. Jeff Wall took photographs of what appear to be momentary images but were in truth well staged artificial arrangements.

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