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Montgomery Museum of Fine Art

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Rewind: Art of the 1980s

January 03 through March 01, 2015

The Rewind series of exhibitions focuses on pieces from the MMFA Permanent Collection to illustrate significant art movements from three key decades in contemporary American art: the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Each exhibition reveals the important artists, styles, processes, and movements that emerged during each decade to have a lasting impact on the direction of art.

During this period art making experienced a seismic shift, moving away from the gestural forms of Abstract Expressionism toward styles that embodied both representational and abstract forms. This allowed artists to reflect and investigate identity while also exploring views on social and political events occurring in the world. A fascination with real life and with the media took hold.

Art in the 1980s, like work from the preceding decades, was often tied to cultural, social and political events of the time. The advent of AIDS, the ending of the recession and strong economic growth, advancing technology with personal computers and the Internet, and the thawing of the cold war all led to new global connections. In the face of this, many artists’ subject matter turned from popular culture to an inward artistic vision with a focus on identity and the body as seen in the work of Jody Mussoff. Funk art’s humorous and offbeat assortment of imagery is visible in William T. Wiley’s work and graffiti works by artists such as Keith Haring expanded into the fine art realm. Additionally, illustrating the era’s return to expressionistic works—both figurative and abstract—are works by artists such as John L. Moore. Throughout the 1980s, many different styles emerged demonstrating an expansion of the plurality of ideas that had begun in 1970s into exciting modes of expression.


Aliant Bank.

Installation images

Photography of installation at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts