Author(s): Helen Molesworth
Art of the 1980s oscillated between radical and conservative, capricious and political, socially engaged and art-historically aware. This fascinating book chronicles canonical as well as nearly forgotten works of the 1980s, arguing that what has often been dismissed as cynical or ironic should be viewed as a struggle on the part of artists to articulate their needs and desires in an increasingly commodified world. The major developments of the decade - the rise of the commercial art market, the politicization of the AIDS crisis, the increased visibility of women and gay artists and artists of colour, and the ascension of new media - are illuminated in works by Sophie Calle, Nan Goldin, Mike Kelley, Jeff Koons, Sherrie Levine, and Lorna Simpson, among others. Essays by leading scholars provide unique perspectives on the decade's competing factions and seemingly contradictory elements, from counterculture to the mainstream, radicalism to democracy and historical awareness, conservatism to feminist politics. Complete with critical texts on each work, "This Will Have Been" brings into focus the full impact of the art, artists, and political and cultural ruptures of this paradigm-shifting decade. More than 200 full-colour reproductions of works in a range of media, including drawing, painting, photography, and sculpture, illustrate this ambitious guide to a period of artistic transformation.
Helen Molesworth is chief curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Boston. Her books include Solitaire: Lee Lozano, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Joan Semmel (Yale) and Long Life Cool White: Photographs and Essays by Moyra Davey (Yale).