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Art of the 1980s is Back in Fashion!

  • Andy Warhol - Photograph of Georgia O Keeffe with Juan Usle
February 27, 2019
Balasz Takac is alias of Vladimir Bjelicic who is actively engaged in art criticism, curatorial and artistic practice.

When it comes to visual arts, the 1980s were marked by the appearance of Neo-expressionism, an art phenomenon which spurred around the globe. It was a specific return to painting, a reaction against the conceptual and minimal art of the 1970s; the artists were influenced by the heritage of German Expressionism, as well as the post-war styles such as Lyrical Abstraction and New Image Painting.

Such a tendency was largely supported by the growing art market and was internationally promoted by the critics and curators such as Achille Bonito Oliva or Donald Kuspit. On the other hand, this style was critically debated due to for its tie to the celebrity culture, the backlash against feminism, anti-intellectualism, etc.

However, Neo-expressionism brought numerous exquisite artworks and some of them are included in the top list below along with the works produced by the legends of Pop art who were still active during the 1980s. The best part? You can own them right now!

Featured image: Andy Warhol – Photograph of Georgia O’Keeffe with Juan Usle, 1982. All images courtesy their respective galleries.

  • Roy Lichenstein - Against Apartheid

Roy Lichtenstein - Against Apartheid

The first work on our list was made by the master of the Pop art Roy Lichtenstein, who is best known for his graphic, bold and comic book aesthetic based on the technique of stenciled dotted lines.

This particular was printed by Lafayette and published by the artist in collaboration with Galerie Maeght-Lelong for the purposes of benefit action of the Artists of the World against Apartheid, an organization established in cooperation with the United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid. This image features a mirror smeared with brushstrokes which indicates the irresponsibility of the politicians on a global scale.

See more info about the work here.

  • Keith Haring - Montreux 17eme

Keith Haring - Montreux 17eme Festival de Jazz

Keith Haring was another legendary artist from the vibrant New York scene of the 1980s; he managed to combine the sensibility of the street and the high art in order to create outstanding imagery combined of barking dogs, babies, hearts, flying saucers, and Mickey Mouse. Through his art, Haring explored burning topics such as drug abuse, exploitation, fears of nuclear holocaust, and AIDS.

This particular work is an actual poster for the Montreal Jazz Festival in 1983, which was produced in various colored versions.

See more info about the work here.

  • James Rosenquist - Above From the Myth and Technology Series of 7 works

James Rosenquist - Above (From the Myth and Technology Series of 7 works)

Next up is the work of the Pop Art legend James Rosenquist, one of the leading proponents of the movement; he is best known for his large-scale paintings based on collaging principle of an array of images from popular culture, vernacular and politics.

This particular work is a color lithograph; it belongs to the series, as the title suggests, and was produced by the artist in 1981.

See more info about the work here.

  • Jiang Tie Feng - Morning Flowers

Jiang Tie Feng – Morning Flowers

Next on our list is the work of Chinese artist Jiang Tie Feng who was one of the founders of the famous Yunnan School. He came to international provenance in 1982 after a National Geographic reporter brought some of his works to the United States. One year later, the artist arrived in the States as part of a cultural exchange program with the University of Southern California. Tie Feng is known for vibrant, exotic and colorful imagery often embedded in traditional Chinese cultural heritage, while the themes in his works rotate around basic human emotions, motherly love, fertility, and strength.

Morning Flowers is a beautiful print the artist produced in 1989 and it encapsulates really well his aesthetic.

See more info about the work here.

  • Roland Hagenberg - Basquiat painting with bar stool

Roland Hagenberg - Basquiat painting with bar stool, New York, 1983

An Austrian artist, photographer and writer Roland Hagenberg around the 1980s spent some time documenting the New York art scene, especially the artists such as Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol, Francesco Clemente, Robert Mapplethorpe, and others in their studios. One of them was also Jean-Michel Basquiat, and their shooting session resulted in a portfolio of black and white photographs featuring the artist in the midst of his creative process. These images are quite important since they formed an image of this extremely talented man, so it is not strange they were published in various monographs and were displayed in many exhibitions.

See more info about the work here.

  • Santiago Cardenas - Tablero

Santiago Cardenas – Tablero

The Colombian Santiago Cárdenas is one of the most influential Latin American artists of the twentieth century and his contribution to post-abstraction and Pop Art is really significant. His several decades long practices is based on drawing, although as the time passed by the artist moved from the naivety of Pop Art to the simplicity and formality of Conceptual art.

The work Tablero can be understood in that context, although it was produced during the 1980s; it shows the artist’s concern with the notion of the spatiality of the painterly surface and the form.

See more info about the work here.

  • Andy Warhol - Photograph of Georgia O Keeffe with Juan Usle

Andy Warhol - Photograph of Georgia O'Keeffe with Juan Usle, 1982

In 1979, Pop Art icon Andy Warhol met another famous American artist, Georgia O’Keeffe, and the encounter resulted in Warhol producing a series of diamond dust prints. During that time, Georgia stopped working since her sight weakened and she was in her early nineties.

However, the two became friends, so it is not surprising that this photograph made in 1982 with Spanish abstract painter Juan Uslé depicts the legend of American art in a spontaneous chat with another artist.

See more info about the work here.

  • Willem de Kooning - Composition for Lisa

Willem de Kooning - Composition for Lisa

One of the best known Abstract Expressionist known for gestural portraits of women, Willem de Kooning traveled to the Bay Area in 1960 where he visited the print studios at the University of California. De Kooning found there two oversized lithographic stones, and in less than an hour used them alongside the cleaning tool and stones to two explosive images such as Waves I and Waves II were made.

During the 1970s, the painter visited Japan, and the trip inspired him to use the lithography and produce works reminiscent of the Japanese calligraphy and Sumi ink painting. The artist was so driven by this media so he collaborated with the master printmaker Irwin Hollander on the production of twenty-four black-and-white lithographs. Although Composition for Lisa was made in 1984, it reflects how much the artist was obsessed with this medium.

See more info about the work here.

  • Helen Frenkenthaler - Madame de Pompadour

Helen Frankenthaler - Madame de Pompadour

Next up is the work of renowned American abstract expressionist painter Helen Frankenthaler, who was among the most important proponents of postwar American painting. Throughout her five decades-long career, she managed to achieve continuity by producing captivating and well-thought works. Frankenthaler was featured in the iconic exhibition called Post-Painterly Abstraction curated by Clement Greenberg in 1964.

This particular work was produced in 1985, and it features the historical figure interpreted in an abstract manner typical for Frankenthaler.

See more info about the work here.

  • Donald Sultan - Black Rose

Donald Sultan - Black Rose (2 of 3)

The last work on our list was made by American artist Donald K. Sultan, best known for his large-scale still life paintings. He came to prominence during the late 1970s in New York, as part of the “New Image” movement.

This particular work is an aquatint from the Black Roses series produced by Sultan in December 1989 and published in 1990. These works are connected to the artist’s general interest in flowers; the medium’s saturated blackness embodies Sultan’s articulation of the conceptual entirety.

See more info about the work here.