Having words with painting: October contra Neoexpressionism

Bowman, Matthew (2023) Having words with painting: October contra Neoexpressionism. In: And Painting Continues, 31 May 2024, University of Nottingham. (Unpublished)

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When Neoexpressionism became preeminent in the North American and European art world at the start of the 1980s, the October journal was at the forefront in castigating this tendency. Painters such as Anselm Kiefer and Georg Baselitz seemed to October as exemplifying a mystified false consciousness bent upon the immediate expressivity of the painterly gesture, as if, for those painters, it was painting that existed as a “message without a code.”

October’s strictures against Neoexpressionism, however, did not constitute a rebuttal of painting tout court. Indeed, while photographic, site-specific, and discursive art practices were uppermost in their accounts of postmodernism, October also defended a limited selection of painting practices, especially those that eschewed or deconstructed the painterly.

This paper revisits that moment in the 1980s with two core aims in mind. Firstly, it seeks to analyse how the eruption of Neoexpressionism generated reflection into the language and procedures of art criticism. The battle over painting was, then, a battle over art criticism itself, as if painting and criticism had a particular and indelible stake within one another. And secondly, the paper will touch upon how October’s rejection of Neoexpressionism was a defence of painting—one answerable to an expanded field that October implicitly recognized but could not be theorized until much later.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: fine art, Neoexpressionism, European art, North American art
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BH Aesthetics
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > ND Painting
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Business & Applied Social Science > Department of Arts & Humanities
Depositing User: Matthew Bowman
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2024 08:13
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2024 08:13
URI: https://oars.uos.ac.uk/id/eprint/3791

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