UBS Openings: Paintings from the 1980s
12 November 2008 – 13 April 2009
Tate Modern, Level 3, Admission Free
A new display at Tate Modern, UBS Openings: Paintings from the 1980s, will offer an opportunity to re-appraise Neo-Expressionist painting a quarter of a century after its emergence. Drawing on the collections of UBS and Tate, Paintings from the 1980s, will bring together eleven large-scale works by the key international painters who were at the forefront of this new form of figurative painting.
Neo-Expressionism marked a return to figurative painting after a period in which public discussion of art had been dominated by minimalist and conceptual practices. Its practitioners defied the frequently predicted ‘death of painting’ to bring together conceptual ideas and personal imagery. The results were extremely powerful: figurative, large-scale paintings that made complex references to history and tradition, but retained their immediacy through rapidly executed brush-work and vivid colours.
Artists in Europe and America had begun to challenge the modernist status quo from the mid sixties but this tendency did not gain recognition until the moment of the early 1980s that provides the focus of this display. In Italy Sandro Chia, Francesco Clemente, Enzo Cucchi and Mimmo Paladino began making large-scale figurative paintings. These chimed with the work of an older generation of German painters- Georg Baselitz, Markus Lüpertz and A.R. Penck. British and American artists who came to the fore at this time include Jean-Michel Basquiat, Christopher Le Brun, David Salle and Julian Schnabel.
The display will bring together significant works made in the period 1980-5, including Basquiat’s Tobacco Versus Red Chief1981-2, a critical comment on urban culture and history, Schnabel’s HumanityAsleep 1982 painted over a surface of broken crockery, and Clemente’s Self Portrait 1984, a recurring theme that the artist has consistently explored throughout his career.
The display is curated by Matthew Gale, Head of Displays, Curator (Modern Art), Tate Modern.