Minnesota Public Radio explores a new show of 80s art that is moving from Chicago to the Walker Art Center:
There is an astonishing variety of material around the Walker, with the work of more than 90 artists represented. There are photographs, sculptures, videos, drawings and paintings. They range from some of the controversial nudes of Robert Mapplethorpe’s and Jeff Koons’ stainless steel rabbit, to advertisements altered to make a political statement.
The artists of the 1980s make a point by mixing the corporate and the political. The show includes images of Ronald Reagan and street protests, Andy Warhol and the Marlboro man. […]
The Reagan era brought new prosperity to many people, and an end to the counter culture born in the 1960s, Ryan said. The mass media took on an ever more powerful cultural importance. Early evidence of globalization began to appear. […] The 80s were also a time of appropriation — artists taking work done by others, adapting it, sometimes only minimally, and then presenting it as their own commentary on the world. It scandalized the old guard.
And then there was identity art: the demand for recognition for people underrepresented in the media: woman, racial and ethnic minorities, the gay and lesbian community.
On top of that was a new and terrifying tide of HIV and AIDS on the rise.
“You have artists at very desperate times in their lives trying to come to terms with what was happening,” Ryan said.