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Crimes and Misdemeanors: Politics in U.S. Art of the 1980s

Keith Haring, Untitled • 1988, acrylic on canvas; 120 inches diameter • copyright Estate of Keith Haring • Photo courtesy of Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati
Keith Haring, Untitled
1988, acrylic on canvas; 120 inches diameter
copyright Estate of Keith Haring
Photo courtesy of Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati
Crimes and Misdemeanors: Politics in U.S. Art of the 1980s
CINCINNATI  •  Contemporary Art Center  •  Ongoing
Recent historical and critical accounts of U.S. art of the 1980s have tended to focus on theoretical issues in representation, especially appropriation and simulation. But this approach encourages a nearly exclusive focus on the studio products of just a few key artists (Ashley Bickerton, Peter Halley, Jeff Koons, David Salle, Julian Schnabel and Haim Steinbach, to name the most prominent), whose accomplishments are best understood with reference to formalist modernism. These accounts tend to marginalize not only those individuals and collaboratives working outside of the museum-gallery-critic network, but particularly artists with more directly expressed, critical economic, social, and political commitments.

This exhibition is organized around the exploration of four sub-themes: Having/Not, Identity/Constructs, Institutional/Critiques, and Sex/Kills. Each will allow the juxtaposition of now iconic works of art with important but largely non-canonical works that critique or undermine the dominant ideological expressions they represent.

For example, in Having/Not Haim Steinbach's celebration of commodity culture will be juxtaposed with the decidedly anti-capitalist projects of Group Material and the work on homelessness by the Artist and Homeless Collaborative/Hope Sandrow. In Sex/Kills, the graphic and readily available sexuality represented in works by Koons and Richard Prince will be juxtaposed with the AIDS activist agit-prop of Gran Fury and Barbara KrugerÕs work on feminist theories of the male gaze. And in Identity/Constructs, Neo-Expressionist celebration of the authentic, heroic "self" as represented in the new gestural painting will be juxtaposed with deconstructions of the very notion of authentic selfhood by David Hammons, Cindy Sherman, Carrie Mae Weems and others, particularly the selfhood of non-male, non-white, non-straight, non-privileged people.

The following is a partial list of artists to be represented: Artist and Homeless Collaborative, Ross Bleckner, Karen Finley, Gran Fury, Group Material, Guerilla Girls, Hans Haacke, Keith Haring, Lynn Hershman, Deborah Kass, Mike Kelley, Jeff Koons, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler, Sherrie Levine, Robert Longo, Robert Mapplethorpe, Allan McCollum, Richard Prince, Tim Rollins + KOS, Martha Rosler, David Salle, Julian Schnabel, Cindy Sherman, Haim Steinbach, David Wojnarowicz, and Krystof Wodiczko.

Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati Web Site

Contact: Tel: (1) 513 345 84 00

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