PRINT March 2003




ABC No Rio’s inaugural event, “The Real Estate Show,” takes place in an abandoned Delancey St. tenement. Organized by Collaborative Projects—aka Colab—the exhibition addresses the machinations of the Lower East Side real estate market. The show only gains in notoriety when the city repossesses the building during the show’s run.

Benjamin Buchloh’s “Beuys: The Twilight of the Idol,” appears in Artforum. Coming in the wake of the artist’s Guggenheim retrospective, the essay seriously undermines Beuys’s felt-and-fat-in-the-Caucasus self-mythology. Strategically, Buchloh’s demystification of Beuys serves as a historical correlative for his disenchantment with the revival of expressionist tendencies toward artist-heroes and private agons.

ZG, the London-based arts-and-attitude periodical, launches. Fifteen-issue run, edited by Rosetta Brooks, provides eclectic coverage of the latest downtown Manhattan trends. Very pretentious and way cool.


Ingrid Sischy’s debut issue as editor of Artforum: “Allegiance to one kind of art or to one kind of thinking about art is inappropriate, at this time, for a serious art magazine. . . . Blinders would be fatal now.” Her first issue, dominated by artists’ projects, is nothing if not inclusive: Art & Language, Dan Graham, Kim MacConnel, Just Another Asshole, and, memorably, Heresies Collective’s “Artrace: An Heretical Bored Game.” Among the rules: “Subscribe to Artforum; read only your own reviews. Don’t join a Marxist or feminist study group; you won’t get points.”


Craig Owens, “The Allegorical Impulse,” part 1, October 12: Leaning on Walter Benjamin, Owens maintains that allegory persists as a crucial element in contemporary art. Citing Cindy Sherman, Troy Brauntuch, Robert Longo, and Sherrie Levine, he attributes allegorical tendencies particularly to appropriation artists. The critic concludes with an excursus on the inevitable complicity between this “deconstructive” art practice and the objects of its critique.

Roland Barthes dies in Paris. His book on photography, Camera Lucida, had appeared the month before.

Studio 54 shuttered after owners’ tax evasion charges.


Ross Bleckner, Julian Schnabel, and David Salle open at Mary Boone. In his Arts Magazine diary Robert Pincus-Witten calls the dealer’s three darlings “Boonies.”


Pablo Picasso: A Retrospective” opens at the Museum of Modern Art. Auspicious timing for this compendious exhibition, given the fashion for Picassoid wannabes with gargantuan ambitions.

3 Teens Kill 4, an East Village band including David Wojnarowicz, pours blood and bones down the stairwell of 420 W. Broadway, SoHo’s most important gallery address, as commentary on US policy toward Central America. Drummer Julie Hair: “We went to 14th St., absconded some bones, and sealed them in plastic. Those bones were not well cleaned off. Lots of dead animal bits intact. Still quite bloody.”

Seven Young Artists from Italy,” curated by Jean-Christoph Ammann, opens at the Kunsthalle Basel. Arguably the first Transavanguardia exhibition with international impact, the show includes Sandro Chia, Enzo Cucchi, Francesco Clemente, Mimmo Paladino, Nicola de Maria, Luigi Ontani, and Ernesto Tatafiore.


Douglas Crimp, “On the Museum’s Ruins,” October 13: Taking his cues from Rauschenberg, Foucault, Benjamin, Bouvard et Pécuchet, and Malraux, Crimp identifies the museum as an inevitably incoherent archive. Couched in the neutralizing language of academe, Crimp’s essay has an inescapable ideological thrust: He is gunning for the institution before setting his sights on painting in the following year’s “The End of Painting.”

Venice Biennale: Georg Baselitz and Anselm Kiefer share the German pavilion. Some infer that the former’s Model for a Sculpture depicts Hitler giving the Nazi salute; the latter’s works refer to the Nibelungenlied, militarism, Wagner, Heidegger. Vituperative reaction—“fascistic,” “teutonic,” “bombastic”—aggrandizes the hitherto relatively obscure artists. The international pavilion, curated by Achille Bonito Oliva and Harald Szeemann, includes Chia, Cucchi, Clemente, and Paladino, as well as Americans Susan Rothenberg, Julian Schnabel, and David Salle: the first important attempt at integrating recent European and American painting.

CNN launched.


Colab’s “Times Square Show” opens in a decrepit former massage parlor on 41st St. and 7th Ave. A hundred-odd artists and performers, many from the nascent East Village art scene and including soon-to-be-notables Jenny Holzer and David Hammons. Violence and sex overriding themes, in keeping with the “outsider” locale.


Jürgen Habermas’s watershed lecture “Modernity: An Incomplete Project” sharply rebukes the theoretical critical mass increasingly subsumed under the rubric of postmodernism—Foucault, Derrida, et al. Three Cs—viz., Clemente, Chia, and Cucchi—open at Sperone Westwater Fischer, a group show that decisively puts the central figures of the Transavanguardia on the New York map. Kay Larson (Village Voice) describes the look as either “Late Late Mannerism” or, quoting Chia, “The Last Baroque.”

Finger für Deutschland” is staged at Jörg Immendorff’s studio in Düsseldorf. A debutante party of sorts for young German artists bucking the neo-ex trend (Martin Kippenberger, Albert and Markus Oehlen, Werner Büttner, etc.). A program of German New Wave and avant-garde music held at the local artist dive, Ratinger Hof, accompanies the show.

Jasper Johns’s Three Flags sells for over $1 million, reports the New York Times––a first for a living artist: “Reached by telephone at his house in Stony Point, N.Y., Mr. Johns said he felt ‘nothing other than amusement’ at the price of the painting. . . . ‘I was brought up in the Depression, and $1 million is a very important figure to one who grew up at that time. It has a rather neat sound, but it has nothing to do with painting.’”

Absolut Vodka launches “Absolut Bottle” campaign.


Group Material opens gallery at 224 E. 13th St. with “The Inaugural Exhibition.”

John Adams’s Nixon in China, directed by Peter Sellars, premieres at Houston Grand Opera.

In a trade with the artist, Julian Schnabel receives David Salle’s diptych painting Daemonization; reversing the panels, he paints a portrait of Salle on one of them, retitling the picture Jump.

Pac-Man introduced.

Calvin Klein jeans commercial featuring Brooke Shields (“You know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.”) banned by CBS.


Metro Pictures opens with group show (Troy Brauntuch, Jack Goldstein, Michael Harvey, Thomas Lawson, William Leavitt, Sherrie Levine, Robert Longo, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, Laurie Simmons, James Welling, and Michael Zwack). Metro’s cofounder (with Janelle Reiring) Helene Winer had previously directed Artists Space, where Douglas Crimp had curated the seminal 1977 “Pictures” show. The lineup of media-obsessed artists contrasts sharply with the mythological/allegorical fixations of neo-expressionism and the Three Cs.

Ronald Reagan elected 40th president.

“Who Shot J.R.?” episode of Dallas viewed in a then record 41 million homes.


Keith Haring begins making his drawings on the walls of subway stations in New York.

Pyramid Club opens on Avenue A. Avant-drag performers are a staple, with regular appearances by Hapi Phace, Lypsinka, John Kelly, Stephen Tashjian/Tabboo!, and Ethyl Eichelberger, who dances precariously on the narrow bar in full Queen Elizabeth I attire.

John Jesurun’s “living film serial” Chang in a Void Moon enjoys performances every Monday night (curtain 9:30 and 11): deadpan theater of the absurd for insomniacs.

San Francisco–based magazine RE/Search launches with “Shocking Tabloid Issues.”

John Lennon shot in New York City.



Dara Birnbaum, Collective for Living Cinema, New York

Sarah Charlesworth, Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York (New York gallery debut)

Arch Connelly, Artists Space, New York

Walter Dahn, Galerie Paul Maenz, Cologne (solo debut)

Günther Förg, Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, Munich (solo debut)

Gilbert & George, “Modern Fears,” Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London

Roni Horn, Clocktower, New York (solo debut)

Thomas Struth, Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, Munich (solo debut)

“Mülheimer Freiheit und interessante Bilder aus Deutschland,” Galerie Paul Maenz, Cologne

“Expressionism: A German Intuition” (cur. Tom Messer), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

“Three New York Artists”(cur. Jean-Christoph Ammann; Robert Moskowitz, Julian Schnabel, Susan Rothenberg), Kunsthalle Basel


John Berger, About Looking

Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose

Michael Fried, Absorption and Theatricality: Painting and Beholder in the Age of Diderot

Andy Warhol and Pat Hackett, POPism


American Gigolo, dir. Paul Schrader

Heaven’s Gate, dir. Michael Cimino

Raging Bull, dir. Martin Scorsese

The Return of the Secaucus 7, dir. John Sayles

The Shining, dir. Stanley Kubrick


Ska revival (Specials, Madness, Selecter)

Rock Against Racism movement in Britain, Germany, and France

Throbbing Gristle, 20 Jazz Funk Greats


Barbara Kruger, “Pictures and Promises,” opens at The Kitchen. A former magazine art director (Mademoiselle), Kruger curates a show illustrating the influence of print media on contemporary artists. The artists (Victor Burgin, Sherrie Levine, James Welling, Laurie Simmons, Hannah Wilke, et al.) share the gallery with magazine spreads, ads, posters, and monitors broadcasting television commercials.

Robert Longo’s “Men in the Cities” is introduced as series in artist’s first Metro Pictures solo. Large-scale charcoal drawings of men (and women) in business attire, contorted in moments of evident surprise or pain, interspersed with lacquered cast-aluminum reliefs depicting views of Manhattan architecture (e.g., Bellevue, the Downtown Athletic Club). Longo includes stenciled “credits” for his models and fabricators.

A New Spirit in Painting” opens at the Royal Academy of Arts, London. Curated by Nicholas Serota, Norman Rosenthal, and Christos Joachimides, the exhibition attempts to integrate new expressionist tendencies among British, European, and American artists within a broad spectrum of painterly practices. The influential (all-male) hodgepodge: Richter, Polke, Kiefer, Markus Lüpertz, A.R. Penck, and Rainer Fetting; Chia and Paladino; and motley Americans and Brits—Ryman, Twombly, Bacon, Auerbach, Morley, Marden, Guston, Warhol, de Kooning, et al. As the lineup suggests, the spirit isn’t quite as new as promised.

First installment of Robert Hughes’s eight-part TV series The Shock of the New and publication of companion book. Hughes’s gregarious delivery and colorful language help establish him as the most influential mainstream critic in the US, although his attitude toward contemporary art is almost invariably hostile or dismissive.

Peter Schjeldahl’s first column as senior critic at the Village Voice appears.


Gracie Mansion opens Loo Division in the bathroom of her E. 9th St. apartment.

Ronald Reagan shot.


Julian Schnabel’s joint show at Mary Boone and Leo Castelli opens. Schnabel is the first new artist Castelli has signed since 1971; like his 1979 Boone debut, the show sells out prior to the opening. The collaboration between the grand seigneur of contemporary dealers and the brash young Boone is itself provocative (representing the artist jointly, they split commissions). Schnabel shows 13 paintings, some on velvet, incorporating gold leaf, moose antlers, and, of course, broken crockery. Thomas Lawson in Flash Art: “Like Reagan, Schnabel puts his faith in unregulated expansionism.”


Sex and Language” conference at the Plaza Hotel, New York, features more than 100 speakers—psychoanalysts, writers, filmmakers, and “scene makers of indeterminate pedigree,” as the New York Times puts it. Participants include Lina Wertmüller, Alain Robbe-Grillet, William S. Burroughs, Thomas Szasz, and Maurice Girodias. “What do I know about sex and language?” Robbe-Grillet wonders. “Nothing. My sex is vague and my language is absent. I am here to observe the scene—and the circus.”

Seminal East Village galleries Civilian Warfare and Nature Morte open for business. Civilian Warfare promulgates the archetypal down-in-the-gutter-with-a-handful-of-glitter East Village aesthetic, whereas Nature Morte, under the direction of artists Alan Belcher and Peter Nagy, propounds the Pop/Conceptual undercurrent.

Westkunst: Contemporary Art since 1939” opens at the Museen der Stadt, Cologne. The show, curated by Kasper König et al., promises examples of “continuity and contradiction”; the 1939 start suggests a political focus. Received modern masters (Picasso, Beckmann, Klee, Mondrian, Ernst, Pollock, de Kooning––the list goes on) mingle with the stars of the ’60s and the occasional oddball (Fautrier, Wols, Ivan Albright, Abraham Rattner). An eclectic range of contemporary art: Schnabel, Salle, Longo, Brauntuch, Holzer, Kushner, Clemente, Ahearn. The exhibition also serves as yet another staging ground for the proliferation of new German painting.


Fun Gallery opens. Under the direction of Bill Stelling and underground film star Patti Astor, the East Village hub features Keith Haring, Futura 2000, Fred Brathwaite, Kenny Scharf, Jane Dickson, and Nicolas Moufarrege during its five-year run.

Rene Ricard’s first Artforum article, “Not About Julian Schnabel,” appears. A not entirely facetious title, as Ricard spends several opening paragraphs attacking various New York dealers, especially Mary Boone. A poet, Ricard eschews normative critical writing, freely mixing panegyric, vituperation, and gossip. These high-octane “appreciations” go some way toward defining the climate of Sischy’s Artforum.

AIDS first diagnosed.


MoMA high priest Alfred Barr dies.

MTV launched.

IBM PC introduced.


Inaugural issue of Art & Text, edited by Paul Taylor, appears. The ambitious journal comes from a far-flung locale, Victoria, Australia; but under Taylor’s canny direction it soon achieves readership beyond the Australian art world.

Rosalind Krauss, “The Originality of the Avant-Garde: A Postmodern Repetition,” October 18: Krauss concludes her critique of originality with Sherrie Levine’s rephotography of pictures by Edward Weston and Eliot Porter, continuing the journal’s canonization of the “Pictures” group.

Fictive Victims” opens at Hallwalls in Buffalo, New York. Features work by Gretchen Bender, Mark Innerst, Bill Komoski, Anne Doran, Peter Coates, Jim Isermann, and Peter Fleps. Curator Robert Longo mixes “Pictures”-type photo-based art with figurative and abstractish painting, the whole suffused with an atmosphere redolent of parody, pop culture, wistfulness, and kitsch.

At Sandro Chia’s suggestion, Annina Nosei invites 22-year-old Jean-Michel Basquiat to join her gallery. Nosei sets up the artist in her basement so he can paint, a gesture that gains a certain notoriety. “Basquiat is likened to the wild boy raised by wolves, corralled into Annina’s basement,” Jeffrey Deitch writes in Flash Art.


Thomas Lawson, “Last Exit: Painting,” Artforum: Lawson stolidly argues for a genuinely subversive painterly practice. David Salle much valorized: “Salle’s paintings remain significant pointers indicating the last exit for the radical artist. He makes paintings, but they are dead, inert representations of the impossibility of passion in a culture that has institutionalized self-expression.” Among the illustrations: Lawson’s own Shot by the Fathers.

Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman” sells 500,000 copies worldwide. The ’70s performance artist takes deadpan delivery, ominous lyrics, and New Wave/No Wave attitudinizing mainstream.


The term “postmodernism” migrates into fine-arts discourse, showing up in a New York Times headline, for Andy Grundberg’s “Cindy Sherman: A Playful and Political Post-Modernist”: “By focusing exclusively on conventionalized, almost stereotypical forms of representation, Sherman seems to question our assumptions about originality in art.” Perhaps the first time “postmodernism” in the October-ish sense appears in the newspaper of record.


The Germans invade New York. A neo-ex juggernaut, with solo shows of Rainer Fetting at Mary Boone, A.R. Penck at Sonnabend, Markus Lüpertz at Marian Goodman, Salomé at Annina Nosei, and Georg Baselitz at Xavier Fourcade. Ross Skoggard writes in Art in America, “The big sport for critics this month is deciding who’s your favorite German.”



Werner Büttner, Galerie Max Hetzler, Stuttgart (solo debut)

Sophie Calle, Galerie Canon, Geneva (solo debut)

Carroll Dunham, Artists Space, New York (solo debut)

Fischli & Weiss, Galerie Stähli, Zurich (solo debut)

Jedd Garet, Robert Miller Gallery, New York

Jim Isermann, Rio Mizuno Gallery, Los Angeles (solo debut)

Jonathan Lasker, Landmark Gallery, New York (solo debut)

Louise Lawler, Jancar/Kuhlenschmidt Gallery, Los Angeles (solo debut)

Louise Lawler and Sherrie Levine, first installment of collaborative A Picture Is No Substitute for Anything, Harold Rivkin, New York

Paul McCarthy, Death Ship, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Albert Oehlen, Galerie Max Hetzler, Stuttgart (solo debut)

Izhar Patkin, The Kitchen, New York (solo debut)

Thomas Ruff, Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, Munich (solo debut)

Laurie Simmons, Metro Pictures, New York (solo gallery debut)

Robert Yarber, Simon Lavinsky Gallery, Los Angeles (solo debut)

■ “Downtown Invitational Drawing Show” (cur. Keith Haring), Mudd Club, New York

■ “Art Allemagne Aujourd’hui” (Baselitz, Beuys, Darboven, Haacke, Immendorff, Kiefer, Lüpertz, Palermo, Penck, Polke, Richter, Roth, Rückriem, Vostell), Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris


Jean Baudrillard, For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign [Pour une critique . . . , 1972]

Norman Bryson, Word and Image: French Painting of the Ancien Régime

Jacques Derrida, Dissemination [La Dissémination, 1972]

bell hooks, Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism

Georg Lukács, Essays on Realism

Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children


The Decline of Western Civilization, dir. Penelope Spheeris

Diva, dir. Jean-Jacques Beineix

Mommie Dearest, dir. Frank Perry

Raiders of the Lost Ark, dir. Steven Spielberg


Haircut 100, “Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)”

Lounge Lizards, The Lounge Lizards


Critical Perspectives” opens at P.S. 1, New York. An array of art critics push their own agendas in the guest curation, viz., Ronny Cohen (“Energism”), Edit deAk (graffiti), Joseph Masheck (academic formalism), Thomas Lawson (Salle, Fischl, Goldstein, himself).


Late Night with David Letterman premieres.


Jenny Holzer, Messages to the Public, Times Square—first “Truisms” work using LED.

Transavanguardia Italia/America” opens at Galleria Civica Modena. Appending Basquiat, Salle, Schnabel, David Deutsch, and Robert S. Zakanitch to the Italian movement, the exhibition is largely distinguished by its curator, Achille Bonita Oliva, whose 1979 essay “The Italian Trans-Avantgarde” (Flash Art) promoted the return to figurative, mythopoeic painting.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous premieres.


Italian Art Now: An American Perspective—1982 Exxon International Exhibition,” curated by Diane Waldman, opens at the Guggenheim. The first major exhibition of new Italian art at an American museum. Clemente is excluded, and his absence is taken as evidence of Waldman’s obtuseness. Aside from his high praise for Chia and Cucchi, Peter Schjeldahl (“Treachery on the High Cs,” Village Voice) dismisses the show as “a bore.”

Falklands War begins.


Sigmar Polke’s first New York solo show opens at Holly Solomon. “It is a scandal that he has never shown here before,” Thomas Lawson comments in an Artforum review.


Rudi Fuchs’s Documenta 7 brings together both the new, mostly European figurative painting and artists with “critical” art practices from the US (Barbara Kruger, Dara Birnbaum, Cindy Sherman, etc.). “Documenta seemed to me to be an effort to make painting a specifically European activity,” Roberta Smith observes. “A painter like Julian Schnabel . . . was excluded, while young [American] artists doing photograph-based work were invited to exhibit.” Overall, American critics react negatively to Fuchs’s vaporous, reactionary premises.

Wedge, edited by Brian Wallis and Phil Mariani, debuts. Another journal dedicated to “critical” art practices, but its editorial program remains less academic than that of October. Ceases publication in 1988.

Israel invades Lebanon.

Rainer Werner Fassbinder dies.


Benjamin Buchloh, “Allegorical Procedures: Appropriation and Montage in Contemporary Art,” Artforum: Like Craig Owens, Buchloh conscripts allegory as an important tool of critical practice, providing substantial art-historical pedigree. Emphasizing the political implications of allegory and appropriation, he goes on to praise Martha Rosler, Sherrie Levine, and Dara Birnbaum.

Hilton Kramer, late of the New York Times, launches the New Criterion. Having given up on contemporary art post-AbEx, he promulgates an archconservative, “Reaganite” cultural politics.


Zeitgeist,” organized by Norman Rosenthal and Christos Joachimides, opens in a neo-Renaissance palazzo designed by Martin Gropius near the Berlin Wall. The zeitgeist in question is infused with the rebirth of painting. Marginal improvement on the Royal Academy’s pure testosterone “New Spirit” show: Susan Rothenberg is the sole woman among the 46 artists exhibiting.


Basquiat’s solo show at Fun––characterized as a return to the raw immediacy of the artist’s work pre-Nosei––opens. “The opening was great,” Bruno Bischofberger comments. “It drew young blacks and Puerto Ricans, along with limousines from uptown.”

Rene Ricard, “The Pledge of Allegiance,” Artforum: Ricard’s apotheosis of Fun Gallery director Patti Astor (“The Fun wasn’t started because Patti Astor suddenly wanted to become an art dealer. . . . Open your own gallery. You can have your own fun. Start your own war.”)

Maya Lin’s Vietnam Memorial dedicated in Washington, DC.



Mike Bidlo, “Jack the Dripper at Peg’s Place,” P.S. 1, New York

Jennifer Bolande, “Landmarks,” The Kitchen, New York (solo debut)

Jean-Marc Bustamante, Galerie Baudoin Lebon, Paris (solo debut)

Leon Golub, “Mercenaries and Interrogations,” Sarah Campbell Blaffer Gallery, University of Houston

Richard Hambleton, Alexander Milliken Gallery, New York (solo debut)

Mark Innerst, The Kitchen, New York (solo debut)

Tadashi Kawamata, Gallery Kobayashi, Tokyo (solo debut)

Mark Kostabi, Molly Barnes Gallery, Los Angeles (solo debut)

Barbara Kruger, Annina Nosei Gallery, New York (first solo at Nosei)

John Miller, White Columns, New York (solo debut)

Mark Morrisroe, 11th Hour Gallery, Boston (solo debut)

Nic Nicosia, Delahunty Gallery, Dallas (solo debut)

Lee Quinones, Fun Gallery, New York

Peter Schuyff, White Columns, New York (solo debut)

Philip Taaffe, Roger Litz Gallery, New York (solo debut)

Mark Tansey, Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York (solo debut)

Christopher Williams, Jancar/Kuhlenschmidt Gallery, Los Angeles (solo gallery debut)

Terry Winters, Sonnabend, New York (solo debut)

David Wojnarowicz, Alexander Milliken Gallery, New York (solo debut)

■ “A Likely Story” (cur. Valerie Smith; Gretchen Bender, David Cabrera, Ronald Jones, Jeff Koons), Artists Space, New York

■ “Art and the Media: A Fatal Attraction” (cur. Thomas Lawson; Donald Baechler, Barbara Bloom, Sarah Charlesworth, Robert Longo, David Salle, et al.), Renaissance Society, Chicago.

■ “Extended Sensibilities: Homosexual Presence in Contemporary Art” (cur. Dan Cameron), New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York

■ “Five Painters: Chia, Clemente, Kiefer, Salle, Schnabel,” Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London

■ “Image Scavengers: Painting” and “Image Scavengers: Photography,” ICA, Philadelphia

■ “Warhol verso de Chirico,” Campidoglio, Rome; rehung 1985 at Marisa del Re Gallery, New York


Jean Stein, Edie, an American Biography

Cornel West, Prophesy Deliverence! An Afro-American Revolutionary Christianity


E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, dir. Steven Spielberg

Querelle, dir. Rainer Werner Fassbinder

The Road Warrior, dir. George Miller

Sans Soleil, dir. Chris Marker

Tron, dir. Steven Lisberger


Grandmaster Flash, The Message

Hüsker Dü, Everything Falls Apart

Rise of Synth-Pop (Heaven 17, Soft Cell, Human League)


The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Laughter,” curated by Jo Anna Isaak and including work by Ilona Granet, Mike Glier, Mary Kelly, Jenny Holzer, Nancy Spero, and Barbara Kruger, opens at Protetch McNeil, New York. Isaak’s essay relies heavily on structural linguistics and Lacanian psychoanalysis in advancing the cause of feminist art practices.

Time magazine Man of the Year: the computer


Robert Longo’s double show at Metro Pictures and Castelli Greene opens, featuring very large, multimedia works––cast aluminum bas-reliefs, paintings, and drawings in various combinations. Iconic works, e.g., Corporate Wars: Walls of Influence, shown.


Ronald Reagan dubs the Soviet Union the “Evil Empire.”

Compact discs introduced.


Curators Tricia Collins and Richard Milazzo launch Effects magazine in their East Village apartment. “The whole idea behind Effects was that it was an extension of our living room, which was a regular hangout at the time,” Collins recalls. Great visuals, e.g., Richard Prince’s “The Entertainers”; often gelatinous, comedy-theory prose (“Jim Welling sets his obscurities in iceberg pronged pedantic Russian. Is there a poetry of loss?”). Folds after three issues.


Semiotext(e)––a journal that began publication in 1974––issues first two volumes of its Foreign Agents series, Jean Baudrillard’s Simulations and Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s On the Line (1983). The series comprises nonpareil critical-theory musthaves for the smart-art crowd.

Julian Schnabel’s painting Notre Dame sells at Sotheby’s for $93,500—$40,000 over initial estimate.


Cindy Sherman’s first “fashion” photographs commissioned by Dianne Benson, proprietor of the trendy SoHo boutique Dianne B., for Interview.


Just Another Asshole #6 appears: prose writings by 61 artists and others, including Kathy Acker, Eric Bogosian, Jenny Holzer, Cookie Mueller, Richard Prince, David Rattray, Kiki Smith, and Lynne Tillman.


Thierry de Duve, “Who’s Afraid of Red Yellow and Blue?,” Artforum: Another art-history heavyweight enters the death/rebirth of painting argument, concluding “that both alternatives, unless rejudged and reinterpreted, are bound to remain equally disquieting.”

Science Fiction,” curated by Peter Halley and including work by Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, Ross Bleckner, Donald Judd, Robert Smithson, R.M. Fischer, Taro Suzuki, David Deutsch, and Jim Biederman, opens at John Weber, New York. Proto neogeo, before there was a name or market for it. Halley: “You couldn’t give it away until ’85.”

Unofficial opening of Philip Johnson’s AT&T Building, hailed as a “harbinger of a new era” by Paul Goldberger in the New York Times. An overnight icon of postmodern architecture (and symbol of that style’s acceptance by corporate America).

Area opens in TriBeCa. As the Mudd Club era ends, a new velvet rope dispensation begins.

Richard Prince’s “Spiritual America” opens in a Lower East Side storefront tricked up for the occasion. The exhibition consists of a single, notorious image: Prince’s rephotographed picture (after an original by Garry Gross) depicting a prepubescent Brooke Shields emerging from a steamy bathtub. The brazen image of little-girl sexuality arouses hostile reactions from former (often feminist) critical supporters. Prince: “I got kicked out of the women’s club.”


The United States invades Grenada.


Museum of Contemporary Art’s Temporary Contemporary opens in Los Angeles in a vast renovated warehouse (design by Frank Gehry). The museum’s corrective vision to the New York–centric view of American art abets the establishment of LA as a pivotal art scene.


Michael Jackson’s 14-minute video for “Thriller” debuts on MTV.



Donald Baechler, Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York

Gretchen Bender, Nature Morte, New York (solo debut)

David Bowes, Galerie Eric Franck, Geneva (solo debut)

James Brown, Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York

Scott Burton, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati

George Condo, Ulrike Kantor Gallery, Los Angeles (solo debut)

Futura 2000, 51X, New York

Rodney Alan Greenblatt, Gracie Mansion Gallery, New York (solo debut)

Keith Haring, Fun Gallery, New York

Ronald Jones, Centro Documentazione Artein, Rome (solo debut)

Greer Lankton, Civilian Warfare, New York (solo debut)

Allan McCollum, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York (“Plaster Surrogates” debut)

David Reed, Max Protetch, New York

Thomas Schütte, “Sculpture from Germany,” SF MoMA

Peter Schuyff, Pat Hearn Gallery, New York (solo gallery debut)

Rosemarie Trockel, Galerie Philomene Magers, Bonn (solo debut)

■ “1984: A Preview,” Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York

■ “Borrowed Time,” Baskerville + Watson, New York

■ “Expressions: New Art from Germany,” St. Louis Art Museum

■ “Post-Graffiti,” Sidney Janis Gallery, New York

■ “Real Life Magazine Presents” (Jennifer Bolande et al.), White Columns, New York

■ “Sound and Vision: Today’s Music,” (Laurie Anderson, Fab Five Freddy, Philip Glass, Joseph Jarman, Glenn O’Brien, Gregory Sandow, Alan Vega), New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York


Svetlana Alpers, The Art of Describing: Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century

Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities

Norman Bryson, Vision and Painting: The Logic of the Gaze

Michel Foucault, This Is Not a Pipe [Ceci n’est pas une pipe, 1973]

Hal Foster, ed., The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture

Serge Guilbaut, How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art: Abstract Expressionism, Freedom, and the Cold War


Born in Flames, dir. Lizzie Borden

Flashdance, dir. Adrian Lyne

The King of Comedy, dir. Martin Scorsese

Videodrome, dir. David Cronenberg


Madonna, Madonna

New Order, Power, Corruption & Lies

Prince, 1999

R.E.M., Murmur

Sonic Youth, Kill Yr. Idols


Ridley Scott’s 1984-inspired commercial for Apple Computer airs.


“Civilization and the Landscape of Discontent” at Nature Morte and “Still Life With Transaction” at International With Monument, both curated by Tricia Collins and Richard Milazzo, inaugurate a run of 45 shows by the pair between 1984 and 1993. The two are noteworthy for their coagulated, obscurantist prose style. Fond of citing Hegel.

Parkett begins publication. Each issue of the bilingual (English/German) journal is devoted to in-depth coverage of one to three contemporary artists, with accompanying editions for sale.

Downtown impresario Claryssa Dalrymple joins forces with Nicole Klagsbrun and John Abbott to open Cable Gallery in New York.

Benetton begins “All the Colors in the World” campaign.


Jean-Michel Basquiat opens at Mary Boone, to mixed reception. “The colors are freshly squeezed and clean, the edge polished, the funk flattened,” Nicolas Moufarrege complains in Flash Art. Boone claims the paintings are deliberately “underpriced” at $10,000–$25,000, emphasizing that the gallery is taking a low-key approach to the artist’s promotion.

Carlo McCormick and Walter Robinson, “Slouching Toward Avenue D,” Art in America: A lengthy, insider’s view of the East Village art scene, countered by Craig Owens’s terse dismissal, “The Problem of Puerilism,” in the same issue.

Peter Halley, “The Crisis in Geometry,” Arts: Among the emergent neo-geo set, Halley is the theorist/polemicist, here arguing for the importance of Baudrillard and Foucault with respect to Levine, Bleckner, Koons, et al.

HIV identified by researchers.


New Hand Painted Dreams: Contemporary Surrealism,” at Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York. Including work by George Condo, Kenny Scharf, Peter Schuyff, Thierry Cheverney, and Jiří Georg Dokoupil, the show marks an early foray of the East Village art scene into SoHo.


Fredric Jameson, “Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism,” New Left Review: A classic statement on postmodernity, highlighting pastiche as its dominant modality, the effacement of high/low distinctions, and the potential dehistoricization implicit in a culture of deracinated signifiers.

Michel Foucault dies; the same month, vols. 2 and 3 of his posthumous Histoire de la sexualité appear.


Jean Baudrillard, “Astral America,” Artforum: A contributing editor since 1983, Baudrillard, the strangely buoyant sage of postmodern alienation, here tours Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and New York: “By a wonderful complicity shared by all its population, New York affords itself the comedy of its own catastrophe.” The philosopher confesses his avowed disinclination to master English.

Von Hier Aus,” curated by Kasper König, opens at Messelgelände, Düsseldorf. Title phrase—“from here out”—provided by Beuys, who spells it out in green neon over the entrance. Beuys, Richter, Darboven, and Polke represent older generations; neo-ex heavily included (along with such exceptions to the movement’s hegemony as Gerhard Merz, Ulrich Rückriem, Imi Knoebel, Werner Büttner, and Albert Oehlen). Although the show prioritizes Düsseldorf, the strong presence of the Mülheimer Freiheit group and Oehlen et al. underscores the increasing prominence of Cologne.

‘Primitivism’ in 20th Century Art: Affinities of the Tribal and the Modern” opens at the Museum of Modern Art. Curators William Rubin and Kirk Varnedoe display historical avant-garde work (Picasso, Giacometti, Ernst) and examples of the arts of Africa, Oceania, etc., with emphasis on direct instances of influence and more nebulous connections. Thomas McEvilley’s “Doctor Lawyer Indian Chief,” in the November Artforum, attests that Rubin treats MoMA as “a temple to be promoted and defended with a passionate devotion––the temple of formalist Modernism.” A series of exchanges ensues between the curators and McEvilley.

Andreas Huyssen, “Mapping the Postmodern,” New German Critique: Another weighty attempt to pin down the exhaustingly slippery concept, enlivened, however, by Huyssen’s account of his visit to Documenta 7 and his assault on Rudi Fuchs’s curatorial agenda.

Advertisting mogul Charles Saatchi sells off his collection of Chia paintings. The artist’s market quickly sours, having a devastating effect on his career.

An International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture,” curated by Kynaston McShine, marks the reopening of MoMA after renovation.


Ross Bleckner shows a single, large stripe painting at Nature Morte. The exhibition provides a new appropriationist/neo-geo context for the artist’s work: “I liked the gallery’s intellectual, gay attitude.”



Ashley Bickerton, Artists Space, New York (solo debut)

Sarah Charlesworth, The Clocktower, New York.

Thierry Cheverney, Pyramid Club and Pat Hearn Gallery, New York (solo debuts)

René Daniëls, Mike Kelley, Robert Longo, Cindy Sherman, Metro Pictures, New York

Fortuyn/O’Brien, “Bon Voyage Voyeur—a view over the ocean,” Galerie van Kranendonk, The Hague (part 1), and Artists Space, New York (part 2; solo debuts)

Robert Gober, “Slides of a Changing Painting,” Paula Cooper Gallery (solo debut)

Mona Hatoum, Franklin Furnace, New York (New York solo debut)

Kevin Larmon, Nature Morte, New York (solo debut)

Annette Lemieux, Cash/Newhouse, New York (solo debut)

McDermott & McGough, North Shore Gallery, New York (solo debut)

Joel Otterson, Nature Morte, New York (solo debut)

Steven Parrino, Nature Morte, New York (solo debut)

Martin Wong, Semaphore Gallery, New York (solo debut)

Christopher Wool, Cable Gallery, New York (solo debut)

Michele Zalopany, P.P.O.W., New York (solo debut)

■ “Art and Ideology” (cur. Benjamin Buchloh, Donald Kuspit, Lucy Lippard, Nilda Peraza, and Lowery Sims; Ismael Frigerio, Alfredo Jaar, Jerry Kearns, Suzanne Lacy, Fred Lonidier, Allan Sekula, Nancy Spero, Kaylynn Sullivan, Francesc Torres, and Hannah Wilke), New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York

■ “Limbo” (cur. Carlo McCormick and Walter Robinson), P.S. 1, New York


T.J. Clark, The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers

Dennis Cooper, Safe

William Gibson, Neuromancer

Michael Holly, Panofsky and the Foundations of Art History

Rosalind Krauss, The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths

Jay McInerney, Bright Lights, Big City

Brian Wallis, ed., Art after Modernism: Rethinking Representation


Choose Me, dir. Alan Rudolph

Paris, Texas, dir. Wim Wenders

Repo Man, dir. Alex Cox

Stranger Than Paradise, dir. Jim Jarmusch

The Terminator, dir. James Cameron


Run-D.M.C., Run-D.M.C.

Gothic Rock begins in Britain (Southern Death Cult)

Madonna, Like a Virgin


Novelist, playwright (The Roman Polanski Story), and former Mudd Club habitué Gary Indiana’s first review for the Village Voice, inaugurating his tenure as the most fractious and compelling art critic in the mainstream press.

Les Immatériaux,” curated by Jean-François Lyotard, opens at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Illustrating some aspects of what the French philosopher calls “the postmodern condition,” the exhibition contains no artworks, showcasing instead cybernetic technologies and radical materials (e.g., prosthetic skin). Echt-Lyotard: the decentered self, nonlinearity, the decline of “master narratives,” etc.: “The speculative hierarchy of learning gives way to an immanent and, as it were, ‘flat’ network of areas of inquiry, the respective frontiers of which are in constant flux” (The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge).

Donna Haraway, “Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s,” Socialist Review: A classic of nascent “cybernetic theory.” Haraway polemically links the cyborg to socialist feminism, positing this entity on the border of fiction and reality as a new ideal of subjectivity.

Mikhail Gorbachev becomes general secretary of the USSR.


Saatchi Gallery opens in London.


The Palladium, designed by Arata Isozaki, opens on 14th St. Décor includes large-scale installations by Scharf, Haring, and Basquiat.

Former telephone commodities salesman Jeff Koons’s first solo show, “Equilibrium,” opens at International With Monument (where Koons’s neo-geo confrère Meyer Vaisman is a partner). Koons’s basketballs suspended in aquariums become iconic works of the neo-geo groundswell. Also, meticulously framed Nike ads featuring (mostly) black basketball stars––used with the permission of the company rather than appropriated––and bronze casts of inflatable objects, e.g., a lifeboat. Gary Indiana in the Village Voice: “Art making has become a salvational sport, the basketball of disaffected, middle-class white kids.”

Guerrilla Girls affix posters across lobby windows of 420 Broadway: “These galleries show no more than 10% women artists or none at all.” The anonymous Girls take to making appearances wearing gorilla masks.


Nicolas Moufarrege dies of AIDS. A pivotal figure on the East Village scene, the Egyptian-born artist, critic, and curator promoted an inclusive aesthetic, very much in tune with Fun Gallery. Memorial retrospective at P.S. 1/The Clocktower in 1987, curated by Elaine Reichek and Bill Stelling with essay by Brooks Adams.


Live Aid concert.


Warhol, Basquiat Paintings” opens at Tony Shafrazi Gallery. Collaborative works by Warhol and Basquiat, who is closely attached to the Pop art deity. Poorly received, the works are left out of the 1989 Warhol retrospective at MoMA.


Maureen Dowd, “Youth. Art. Hype: A Different Bohemia,” New York Times Magazine: Dowd’s cover story on the East Village art scene indicates the high level of popular media exposure. But the area’s vitality is on the wane. Two years later, New York magazine publishes Amy Virshup’s “The Fun’s Over,” proclaiming the death of the scene.



Alan Belcher, Cable Gallery, New York (solo debut)

Christian Boltanski, “Monuments,” Le Consortium, Dijon, France

Barbara Ess, Rodney Graham, Ken Lum, Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, Munich

Katharina Fritsch, Galerie Johnen und Schöttle, Cologne (solo debut)

Peter Halley, International With Monument, New York (solo debut)

Robert Gober, Paula Cooper, New York

Alfredo Jaar, Grey Art Gallery, New York University (solo debut)

Tadashi Kawamata, P.S. 1, New York (New York solo debut)

Will Mentor, Wolff Gallery, New York (solo debut)

Peter Nagy, International With Monument, New York (solo debut)

Aimee Rankin (Morgana), New Museum and Postmasters window installation, New York (solo debuts)

Alexis Rockman, Patrick Fox Gallery, New York (solo debut)

Douglas and Mike Starn, Stux Gallery, Boston (solo debut)

Haim Steinbach, Cable Gallery, New York

Jessica Stockholder, Malinda Wyatt Gallery, New York (solo debut)

■ “The Art of Memory/The Loss of History,” (cur. William Olander; Bruce Barber, Judith Barry, Troy Brauntuch, Sarah Charlesworth, Louise Lawler, Tina Lhotsky, Adrian Piper, Stephen Prina, Richard Prince, Martha Rosler, René Santos, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Christopher Williams, Reese Williams), New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York

■ “The European Iceberg: Creativity in Germany and Italy Today” (cur. Germano Celant; Gae Aulenti, Hans Hollein, J.P. Kleihues, Renzo Piano, Aldo Rossi, Anselmo, Baselitz, Baumgarten, Burri, Calzolari, Cucchi, Darboven, N. de Maria, Fabro, Immendorff, Kounellis, Lüpertz, G. Merz, M. Merz, Mucha, Paladino, Penone, Pistoletto, Polke, Richter), Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto

■ “The Knot” (cur. Germano Celant; survey of arte povera), P.S. 1, New York

■ “Thought Objects” (cur. Barbara Ess; Rodney Graham et al.), Cash/Newhouse, New York

■ “Production Re: Production” (cur. Bob Nickas; Philip Taaffe, Sturtevant, et al.), Gallery 345/Art for Social Change, New York

■ “Signs” (Gary Falk, Ken Feingold, Marian Galczenski, Jenny Holzer, John Knight, MANUAL [Suzanne Bloom and Ed Hill], Matt Mullican, Ted Savinar, Al Souza), New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York


Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste [La Distinction, 1979]

Bret Easton Ellis, Less than Zero


After Hours, dir. Martin Scorsese

Blood Simple, dir. Ethan Coen

Hail Mary, dir. Jean-Luc Godard

The Man Who Envied Women, dir. Yvonne Rainer

My Beautiful Laundrette, dir. Stephen Frears

Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, dir. Tim Burton