A New Spirit in Painting was the title of a major exhibition at the Royal Academy in London in 1981. It attempted to sum up the state of painting at that point. It was an early response to the new currents that appeared in both painting and sculpture around 1980, and acted as a launch-pad that brought these developments to public attention.
The term new spirit painting became used particularly in Britain and is useful in that it also embraces aspects of new painting at that time that do not fit quite comfortably into the category of neo-expressionism, such as the American painters David Salle and Eric Fischl and in Britain Paula Rego, Stephen McKenna, Steven Campbell and the abstract painter Sean Scully.
In Britain particularly, the renewal of interest in painting in the early 1980s, especially figurative painting, brought into fresh focus the work of older artists such as Howard Hodgkin as well as those often called the school of London.