Return of the Real
80s Art Boom
  • Many newly wealthy "Yuppies" buying art as an investment
  • Between 1983 and 1985 more than 100 galleries open in NY
  • Top auction prices for single works, paid mostly by dealers, hovered at about $3 million early in the decade. By the end of the 1980s individual works were selling to private bidders for ten to twenty times that amount.
“Rather than dematerializing itself further, art at the turn of the 1980s largely underwent a 'rematerialization’. It might be concluded from this that the post-1968 avant-garde project, however innovatory its forms, simply failed. In fact, it had to weather a political and cultural sea-change.” – David Hopkins
Julian Schnabel, The Patient and the Doctors, 1978.











Caravaggio, Young Bacchus, c. 1452 - 1455.

Cindy Sherman, Untitled #216, 1990.


Appropriation = the use of found or borrowed elements in the creation of a new artwork
Walter Benjamin's The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
  • In an age when images can be reproduced endlessly, there is no original
  • The "aura" is the feeling of awe created by unique object from the past
  • Capitalism destroys the aura because of proliferation, mass production and endless reproduction











Torso of Neil

Weston poster

Edward Weston, Neil Nude, 1925.
Witkin Gallery, Six Nudes of Neil, 1925 by Edward Weston.  Poster announcing publicationof a limited edition portfolio printed by George A. Tice, 1977.











Untitled After Edward Weston

Sherrie Levine, After Edward Weston, 1981.











Torso of Neil
Untitled After Edward Weston
Polykleitos, Doryphoros, 450 - 440 BCE.
Edward Weston, Neil Nude, 1925.
Sherrie Levine, After Edward Weston, 1981.











After Walker Evans 4

Sherrie Levine, After Walker Evans #4, 1981.











Sherrie Levine, After Aleksander Rodchenko #1 - 12, 1987.











“Confronts the contradiction between photography (an infinitely reproducible medium) and fine art (commonly considered a unique object).  Many art photographers artificially curtail the size of their editions to give their work the aura of a unique object.  This exclusivity is compromised when their work is then reproduced in books and magazines [and on the internet].  Levine rescues them from this process.  The images she photographs originate in the media; but in framing and presenting them as singular works of art, she returns them to the privileged arena of fine art where such mid-twentieth-century photographers as Edward Weston and Walker Evans intended them to be seen.” – Linda Weintraub
Sherrie Levine, After Walker Evans #11, 1981.





















After Duchamp
more on
Sherrie Levine
Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917.
Sherrie Levine, After Duchamp, 1991.











Prince aimed to "turn the lie back on itself" by revealing the "social science fiction" of seemingly natural source material.


Richard Prince, Untitled (four single men with interchangeable backgrounds), 1977.











Richard Prince, Untitled (four women looking in the same direciton) #1 - #4, 1977 - 1979.