There's that moment, in any culture, where the moment right before ours stops feeling worthy of an Oedipal shove, and seems safely, charmingly in and of the past. We seem to have finally got to that point with the art and culture of the1980s: We can take a close look at it without wanting to kill it. A show called "This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s," which opened last week at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (it travels to Boston in the fall), takes the measure of that era's art, with works by a huge roster of names ranging from Jeff Koons to Gerhard Richter to Sherrie Levine. Curator Helen Molesworth examines how artists dealt with the AIDS crisis, feminism, Reaganism, and the culture wars, with the revival of painting—and its oft-pronounced death—and with the new forces of a raging art market. As the press release puts it, "'This Will Have Been' presents a vivid portrait of artists struggling with their wants, needs, and desires in an era of political and aesthetic urgency—and situates our contemporary moment within the history of art of the recent past."
This web gallery presents some highlights from the show.
– Blake Gopnik