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.











Big Self Portrait

Is painting really dead?

  • 1965 painting declared dead
  • 1980s artists demanded a
Two avenues emerge:
  • Photorealism
  • Revival of Expressionsim, a.k.a. Neo Expressionism
Chuck Close, Big Self-Portrait, 1968.
8’ 11 ½” X 6’ 11 ½”.
Jean Michel Basquiat, Mona Lisa, 1983.











Photo Realism = genre of painting that developed out of the Pop Art movement and involves the use of photographs and mechanical transfer of the photo image to canvas that results in a painting that resembles a photo
Chuck Close, Phil (Philip Glass), 1969.










Marilyn Vanitas

Related to Fredric Jameson's concept of the simulacra and Jean Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulation (1981)
simulacra = a copy of a copy which has been so dissipated in its relation to the original that it can no longer be said to be a copy.  The simulacrum therefore stands on its own as a copy without a model.
  • the painting is a copy of a photograph
  • the photograph is a copy of the "original"
  • the "original" may have been set up to remind the viewer of something prior
  • the "original" likely doubtlessly modeled itself on something prior
Audrey Flack, Marilyn (Vanitas), 1977.  96" X 96".











Vija Celmins, Untitled (Ocean) (Venice, California), 1970. Pencil on paper.  14" X 18"
Claudio Bravo, Package, 1969. Charcoal, pastel and sanguine.











Vija Celmins, Untitled (Comb), 1970. Enamel on wood, 75 × 14 5/8 × 2 3/8 in.











trompe l’oeil = fool the eye
Duane Hanson, Tourists II, 1988. Polyester resin, fiberglass and human paraphernalia.











"This image does not represent reality, it represents paint." - David Hopkins
Gerhard Richter, Betty, 1988.











Post-Structuralism = philosophical approach based on the idea that words and photographs are unstable and cannot be trusted, and that everything is a momentary construction with no ultimate meaning or truth
an equalization of illusion and paint
Two Candles

Gerhard Richter, Two Candles, 1983.

Gerhard Richter, Meditation, 1986.










Gerhard Richter Painting











Gerhard Richter, Atlas Sheet 9, 1962.











Eight Student Nurses

Gerhard Richter, Eight Student Nurses, 1966.


grisaille = monochrome painting usually executed in various shades of gray











Student Nurses
Ricther's found images
Richter Nurses
Richter's painted images












Onkel Rudi
Gerhard Richter, Onkel Rudi, 1965.
Gerhard Richter, Clouds (Pink), 1970.











Gerhard Richter, Women in Garden Swing, 1968.
Gerhard Richter, Deck Chair II, 1965.











"I pursue no objectives, no system, no tendency; I have no program, no style, no direction. I steer clear of definitions. I do not know what I want. I am inconsistent, non-committal, passive; I like the indefinite, the boundless; I like continual uncertainty." - Gerhard Richter
History In a Blur by Arthur C. Danto
Gerhard Richter, Woman Descending the Staircase, 1965.