The 1980s

Pluralism on the cusp of the information age
MUSA, Vienna
28/04/15 till 10/10/15

MUSA is now turning its attention to the 1980s as it looks back on the fourth decade in the history of its collection. This phase in the hotly debated ‘postmodernism’ is characterised by a strengthening art market which, initially, focused on the male dominated painting of the Neue Wilden, or nouveaux fauves. Such was the degree of attention garnered by this international movement that it all too easily obscured the fact that many other contemporaneous genres were beginning to establish themselves. Geometric abstraction, i.e. Neue Geometrie or Neo Geo, was seen as an alternative concept to the expressive tenor of figurative painting. Kitsch and irony were among other anti-stylistic means frequently used. Of particular importance was the trend towards the dematerialisation of art, a trend driven by a variety of objectives. For the first time since 1945 photography had fought hard to gain a position of prominence in Viennese art, and concept and new media played just as important a role as the computer, which had also begun its successful advance as a form of artistic expression. This particular domain as well as the extension of Viennese Actionism saw many women artists playing a leading role. 
This artistic pluralism is reflected in MUSA’s own collection. Indeed, our focus is both on the overall spectrum of the art of that period and on the extent to which these artistic phenomena were incorporated into the collection. 
The 1980s also represent the period during which the Department for Cultural Affairs gradually implemented a more professionalised approach to the management of the collection itself. Certainly the appointment of a jury responsible for acquisitions was a milestone in MUSA’s collection history. It would go on to issue recommendations for acquisitions several times a year from 1986 onwards.

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