Pluralism & Art in the 1980s III: The East Village, Graffiti & Identity Art
Dr. Michael Salcman, art historian, poet and neurosurgeon
During the rise of the AIDS epidemic, American artists turned to photographic documentation of life with a focus on communities on the periphery of mainstream society. In New York’s East Village and beyond, identity becomes the core focus of the art of the 1980s—race, homosexuality and feminism take center stage. Many artists and activists adopted the Neo-Expressionist style in painting as a tool to express diverse identity politics, while others made use of graffiti and cartoon-based approaches. Sculpture moved beyond the realm of “art object” to focus on social and political issues. Following this widespread engagement in political matters, art at the end of the decade dramatically shifts with the emergence of the Young British Artists (Hirst) and Pop-influenced art (Koons).
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