The 1980s was a decade of rapid growth, both within global economics and modernization, which was reflected in the artworld. Galleries, art fairs and biennials multiplied around the world, with art serving with an added interest of profit. The upheavals during the 1980s, both social and political could also not help but leave their mark on the world of art.
Here we shine a light on the female artists that dominated the 80s art world scene.
Nan Goldin via jomazelis.wordpress
American photographer Nan Goldin, born in 1953 rose to prominence in the 80s through her fearless depictions of LGBT bodies, moments of intimacy, the HIV crisis, and the opioid epidemic. Her most notable work is The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1986), which documents the post-Stonewall gay subculture and Goldin’s family and friends.
Photo by Barry Kornbluh, December 1987 / Estate of Elizabeth Murray. Courtesy of Pace Gallery via Artsy
The American painter prints maker and draughtsmen Elizabeth Murray (September 6, 1940 – August 12, 2007) is particularly noted for her shaped canvas paintings. In the 80s she made significant innovations in the Neo-Expressionist movement, that was largely dominated by men. Her lively imagery and reconsideration of the rectangle as the traditional format for painting was part of a reinvigoration of that medium in the 1970s and ’80s. Her artworks such as Painters Progress (1981) reimagine the space and shape of a painting itself by warping canvas into sculptural forms.
Portrait of Jenny Holzer by TIMOTHY GREENFIELD‐SANDERS via www.thebroad.org/
American neo-conceptual artist Jenny Holzer, born in 1950, belongs to the feminist branch of a generation of artists that surfaced in the 80s with the aim to find new ways to make narrative or commentary an implicit part of visual objects. In 1989, Holzer became the second female artist chosen to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale in Italy. Major artworks in the 80s included Living series in 1981 and Inflammatory Essays, 1979 to 1982.
Sarah Edwards Charlesworth by John Hutt via museemagazine
Sarah Edwards Charlesworth, born 1947 –2013 was an American conceptual artist and photographer. She was part of The Pictures Generation, a group of artists working in New York 80s, who were disturbed with how images shape our everyday lives and society. In 1981 she co-founded BOMB, a magazine that publishes conversations between artists of all disciplines. In February 1980, Charlesworth created Stills, a series of harrowing, six-and-a-half-foot-tall photographs depicting bodies falling from buildings. Another standout body of work from the artist was “Objects of Desire” series (1983–1988).
Marilyn Minter painter via Vogue
American artist Marilyn Minter, born 1948, is best known for her sensual paintings and photographs done in the photorealism style that blur the line between commercial and fine art. In the ’80s, she focused her lens on more Pop-derived sensual subjects, namely the female body and pornography, setting the tone for many of her works. In 1989, Minter created a series of works based on images from hardcore pornography, based on her belief that nobody has politically correct fantasies.
The Guerrilla Girls via The New York Times
Guerrilla Girls is an anonymous group of feminist female artists devoted to fighting sexism and racism within the art world. Over 55 people have been members over the years, according to their website since the group was formed in New York City in 1985. They protect their identities by wearing gorilla masks in public and by using pseudonyms taken from deceased women artists such as sculptor Kathe Kollwitz and painter Frida Kahlo.