Introduction to Fast Forward: Painting from the 1980s
Welcome to Fast Forward: Painting from the 1980s. I’m Jane Panetta, Associate Curator here at the Whitney.
It was a very explosive moment in the art world and even in New York specifically. A huge number of galleries opened, at the time, artists run galleries and more alternative spaces. And, you know, a lot of these artists that are in this show gained a lot of recognition right away, gained gallery representation right away, the art market is exploding, there’s a lot of criticism circulation, bubbling up around this. And I think there’s also an ability at the time to conflate high and low that hadn’t been a hallmark of the 1960s and 70s, and that was also a new path for artists and another, if you will, explosive thing happening: that artists felt comfortable going out into the streets, thinking about graffiti as an art form, thinking about the connection between public and private.
So the title Fast Forward came in part from an article I read on Keith Haring, that was talking about the climate, this moment, in the early 1980s in particular and more generally, and that there was this idea that there was suddenly a kind of new freedom for artists to paint what you want. To make big garish paintings, to appropriate but not use photography, to make abstract work that was referential, there was kind of this new pace to things, new scale to things that wasn’t there before. And then beyond that I really like the reference to the VCR, which of course came of age in the 1980s as well.
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