The 1980s were (like totally) a decade of immense change for both the United States and the World as a whole. Thanks to a new period of economic growth and the end of the Cold War, America underwent a radical societal shift. The trends of the ’70s were replaced with big hair, shoulder pads, and mind-blowing music videos on MTV. The invention of the internet opened technological doors for students, while a new awareness of global warming brought about concern for the environment. Human rights and societal epidemics came to the forefront of consciousness as a response to the Berlin Wall, famine in Ethiopia, and the ripple effects of the Cold War.
Like their forefathers, artists of the 1980s recognized art as a platform for their own personal political statements and created art as a response to the cultural atmosphere of the ’80s. A wide-range of artist practices emerged in the 1980s allowing artists to express themselves in new and exciting ways. One example, popularized by artists like Sam Francis, Nancy Haynes, and Helen Frankenthaler, was the monotype. Monotype steered away from the perfection of Pop and Minimalism allowing artists, through imperfections and originality, to visibly leave their emotions on the canvas.
In this 1980s mixed-media drawing, John Newman presents a visual record of his accumulative decisions and concerns through his process-driven approach. See Untitled on view in “It’s New / It’s Now: Recent Gifts of Contemporary Prints and Drawings” at the MIA.
Check back next week when we explore the grunge, individualism, and new media of the 1990s.
John Newman (United States, North America), Untitled, 1988, graphite, charcoal, chalk, and oil pastel on paper. Anonymous gift 2011.74.10.
More about the artist and print
Known for his inventive biomorphic sculptures, New York artist John Newman is also a consummate draftsman and printmaker. This mixed-media drawing is characteristic of Newman’s process-driven approach—essentially a visual record of his accumulative decisions and concerns. Featuring complex geometry, layering of forms, rich textures, and frequent pentimenti (underlying images that show through), the elaborate drawing dazzles the mind and the eye.
Visit “It’s New / It’s Now: Recent Gifts of Contemporary Prints and Drawings” to see Newman’s Untitled and 120 other contemporary prints and drawings in person. Reserve your tickets today!
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