Urban Theater: New York Art in the 1980s

Set to accompany a groundbreaking exhibition, this volume is the first to focus exclusively on New York’s 1980s art scene, reuniting many of today’s internationally renowned artists in relation to the urban context that shaped and inspired them. Vibrant and vital, discordant and even obscene, the New York art scene of the 1980s gave rise to some of the contemporary art world’s most recognizable features. As the artists who emerged in that decade now set records at auction, the era is ripe to be reexamined. Representing in turns a cool irony, reflections on media culture, consumerism, cartoons, and street art, the work collected here re-creates the tense energy of a grittier New York. This volume is richly illustrated with works by the decade’s most critically acclaimed artists, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ross Bleckner, Francesco Clemente, Eric Fischl, Nan Goldin, Peter Halley, Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer, Jeff Koons, Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine, Robert Longo, Robert Mapplethorpe, Allan McCollum, Richard Prince, David Salle, Kenny Scharf, Julian Schnabel, Cindy Sherman, Donald Sultan, Philip Taaffe, Andy Warhol, and Christopher Wool.

About The Author

Michael Auping is chief curator, Andrea Karnes is curator, and Alison Hearst is assistant curator at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

  • Publish Date: October 14, 2014
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Category: Art - History - Contemporary (1945-)
  • Publisher: Skira Rizzoli
  • Trim Size: 9 x 12
  • Pages: 204
  • US Price: $55.00
  • CDN Price: $55.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-8478-4454-8


“If you remember the ’80s, were you there? Urban Theater: New York Art in the 1980s recalls the overheated era when one collector supposedly said, “Art collecting is the only socially commendable form of greed.” Through the works of Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Julian Schnabel, Cindy Sherman, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol and others, Urban Theater evokes a feverish decade when, Mr. Auping writes, “ambition was combined with skepticism about the world, and each artist found different ways of exposing their moment in culture either by subverting or magnifying it.” –The New York Times

“Written to accompany a major exhibition at the Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth, where the authors are curators, Urban Theater is really the first serious book to bring the whole crew of downtown artists from the decade of big hair and shoulders together into one volume: Jeff Koons, Robert Longo, Cindy Sherman, Keith Haring, Robert Mapplethorpe, and many more. These are the artists who touched off, and ultimately won, the Culture Wars of the 1990s.” –The Star Ledger