Despite being colored with poverty and social discrepancy, the 1980s New York was a hub for a large number of outstanding artists who were affiliated with each other and created an atmosphere of community. Although the generations shifted, Andy Warhol managed to keep up with the spirit of the time; the artist successfully reinvented himself and maintained the position of a guru who attracted and empowered younger artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat or Keith Haring.
The 1960s recipe of mixing the celebrities with social misfits tested by Warhol in The Factory reflected on Studio 54 and continued further throughout the 1980s; such activity was best expressed through the Interview magazine, which was simultaneously a high-end fashion magazine and a chronicle of the city itself. A large number of people were featured not only in this publication but also in Warhol's films, polaroids and silk screens were his friends whether they were artists, movie stars, nightlife socialites.
The current exhibition simply titled Warhol &Friends. New York in the 80s at Palazzo Albergati in Bologna examines Warhol’s liaisons and the influence he had on the upcoming artists and the New York scene in general during the eighth decade.
The curator of the exhibition Luca Beatrice was interested in showing the new circumstances of the artistic production in this socially and politically estranged period. Namely, the economy largely transformed ways of life, and all of a sudden huge wealth became accumulated, while on the other hand AIDS swept the USA and many passed away; among them Keith Haring and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.
However, the art creation boomed, and a good example is The Times Square Show which happened in the 1980s. It was the first exhibition dedicated to a generation of graffiti artists. Along Haring and Basquiat, street artists and worthy painters such as Kenny Scharf, Donald Baechler and James Brown participated. The 1980s also brought the appearance of Jeff Koons (a former Wall Street broker) who was the perfect link between art and the economy.
During that period Andy Warhol, who would be 90 years old this year, produced works which were an extension of his appropriation of fetishes of the American collective imagination. From Duty-Free to Levi’s Jeans, the artist devotedly commented on the power of mass media by embracing new tactics somewhere between advertising, trade and consumer goods.
Around one hundred and fifty works will be on display and will narrate the stories of excess, transgression, and new world views some of the central characters in the lively artistic atmosphere of New York in the 1980s.
The amazing shots of the photographer Edo Bertoglio, who is a creator of the iconic documentary Downtown 81 performed by Basquiat, are on display, as well as works by French artist Maripol, who did the artwork for Madonna’s album Like a Virgin, and Nan Goldin with her tales of everyday life of the underground. On display is a large number of Neo-expressionist paintings such as those by Julian Schnabel, David Salle and Robert Longo (all of whom worked with film as well), and works of the Italian Transavantgarde artists such as Francesco Clemente and Sandro Chia.
Some of the highlights include Haring’s and Basquiat's Untitled paintings both from 1983, Schanbel’s Dunciad ( Trances of Bouboul) from 1983, Koons’ Art Magazine Ads from 1989, and Bertoglio’s Grace Jones and Madonna (1983), to name just a few. Warhol is represented with thirty-six paintings and thirty-eight Polaroids, which belong to some of his most interesting series such as Shoes, Hammer & Sickle, Camouflage, Lenin, Joseph Beuys, Vesuvius, and Knives.
This exhibition will not only bring closer the specifics of the amazing New York scene in the 1980s, but it will also emphasize on the outstanding excitement and creative bursts of a decade that brought a conjoining of art, music, cinema, and literature. Furthermore, it will reveal the insurgence of the return to painting supported and adorned by the galleries and the international art market.
Warhol &Friends. New York in the 80s will be on display at Palazzo Albergati in Bologna until 24 February 2019.
Featured images: Warhol & Friends. New York in the 80s – Installation views. Courtesy Arthemisia.