Support the Whitney
Become a founding member today.Join now
Inspired by the moment in which Glenn Ligon rose to prominence, this panel contextualizes the art of the late 1980s and early ’90s in the U.S. This era marked a shift in social and cultural life from a money-driven, individualistic ethos of the Reagan and Bush years, to a foregrounding of collective identities of communities that had been pushed to the margins, a period commonly cited as the rise of identity politics. Correspondingly, the visual arts found itself in the midst of the “culture wars,” and a field that had been, in many ways, an extension of free-market excess and conservative values shifted, as artists explored a visual vocabulary of progressive possibility. This panel examined the multifaceted political, social, economic, and cultural forces that provided the conditions of possibility for a generation of artists who take up questions of power, representation, gender, race, and sexuality, to gain prominence and define a new mode of artistic practice. Panelists included art historian Douglas Crimp, artist and writer Catherine Lord, political historian and theorist Linda Nicholson, and cultural historian Tricia Rose.