Gallery 98

ART EPHEMERA 1960s – 1990s

40 Top Art Events of the Downtown Era: A Timeline, 1974–1992

by Marc H. Miller and Jonah Wolf

Front

Announcement for Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition at Vrej Baghoomian gallery, 1988

As the historical contours of the “Downtown Era” come into focus, Gallery 98 thought it would be fun to present an online exhibition of posters and announcements as our own personal survey of this influential period.

The Downtown Era began in the 1970s, when aspiring artists of the baby-boomer generation arrived in New York. Over the next two decades, they would radically change the art world, opening it up to new forms of media, new modes of exhibiting art, and new social perspectives.

This “Top 40” includes two forerunners: Andy Warhol, who challenged art’s separation from mass culture, and Joseph Beuys, whose 1974 visit to New York introduced the idea of “social sculpture” that could effect political change. Curator Jeffrey Deitch perceptively grouped Warhol and Beuys with some of their earliest downtown followers in the 1975 exhibition “Lives,” subtitled “Artists Who Deal With Peoples’ Lives (Including Their Own) As The Subject And/Or The Medium Of Their Work.”

Multiple trends characterized the Downtown Era. The focus on lived experience naturally brought attention to overlooked social issues, and the particular concerns of women, people of color, and the queer-identified. Many young artists, weaned on rock music and TV, now saw themselves as entertainers or public commentators, appropriating the forms of mass media: movies, records, videos, comic books, magazines.

New modes of presentation and distribution accommodated the new wave of artistic production. Low rents gave artists the freedom to open “alternative spaces” outside the uptown gallery infrastructure. A.I.R., in SoHo, was founded by a cooperative of women artists to support their under-represented peers. Alanna Heiss converted P.S. 1, a Queens school building, into a space for large-scale installations and non-commercial exhibitions. Stefan Eins started Fashion Moda in the South Bronx as a way to bring together disparate communities. The artists’ group COLAB put on themed pop-up exhibitions like the “Real Estate Show” and “The Times Square Show.” Some artists took directly to the streets, with posters, billboards, graffiti, and (in the case of Red Spot) outdoor slide projections.

As ephemeral formats jockeyed with the more permanent media of painting and sculpture, these posters and announcements came to form a unique record of the era. But they are more than just documentation. Now that communication has shifted to digital channels, it has become easier to recognize these carefully designed paper objects as art works in their own right.

 

Exhibition Items

(Please click individual items for price and full description)

Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, Joseph Beuys, Invitation, 1974

A.I.R. Gallery show card curated by Lucy Lippard

A.I.R. Gallery, Invitation for exhibition of women artists curated by Lucy Lippard, 1974

mercer bird fyer

3 Mercer St. Store, Stefan Eins, Items under $5, Flyer, 1975

John Gibson Gallery, James Collins, Card, 1975

Fine Arts Building, Jeffrey Deitch, Lives, Invitation, 1975

P.S. 1 , Inaugural Exhibition Rooms, Poster, 1976

Sold

Andrew Crispo Gallery, Christopher Makos, White Trash Book Release, Card, 1977

Washington Project for the Arts, Miller Ringma and Hoppe, Punk Art, Invitation, 1978

P.S. 1, Amanda Feilding, Trepanation for the National Health, Exhibition Booklet, 1978

Sold

Fiorucci, Colette, Justine and the Victorian Punks, Poster, 1978

Sold

5 Bleecker St, Jenny Holzer and Coleen FitzGibbon, Manifesto, Posters, 1979

Sold

Fashion Moda, John Ahearn, South Bronx Hall of Fame, Card, 1979

Becky Howland, Real Estate Show, Flyer, 1980

Sold
Times Square Show Poster by Charlie Ahearn and Jane Dickson

Times Square Show, Jane Dickson and Charlie Ahearn, Poster, 1980

Johnny CRASH Matos, Fashion Moda Presents GAS (Graffiti Art Success for America), poster flyer

Fashion Moda, Johnny CRASH Matos, Graffiti Exhibition, Poster and Press Release, 1980

Sold

Kitchen, Edit deAk, Dubbed in Glamour, Poster, 1980

Sold

ABC No Rio, Inaugural Exhibition Artists for Survival, Flyer, 1980

Sold

New School, Carnival Knowledge Exhibition, Poster, 1981

Sold

A’s , Arleen Schloss, News And Calendar, Silkscreen Poster, 1981

Robert Loncgo cover for Paula Cooper Gallery card

Kitchen, Robert Longo, Tenth Anniversary Benefit for the Kitchen, Card, 1981

Metro Pictures, Cindy Sherman, New Work, Card, 1981

Fun Gallery – Lee color xerox exhibition announcement

Sold

Just Above Midtown/Downtown, Madeleine Keller & Janet Ziff, The Fine Art of Waitressing, Invitation, 1982

New City Court Park, Tehching (Sam) Hsieh, One Year Performance, Poster, 1982

Sold

ABC No Rio, Kiki Smith, The Kitchen Presents The Island of Negative Utopia, Poster, 1983

Fun Gallery, Keith Haring, Poster, 1983

Promotional card for ART/new york's video documentary, "Graffiti / Post-Graffiti," 1984.

ART/new york, Lady Pink, Basquiat, Rammellzee, Keith Haring, Graffiti/Post-Graffiti Announcement, 1984

Palladium, Guerrilla Girls/Jenny Holzer, Poster, 1985

New York Film Festival Downtown, Tessa Hughes-Freeland & Ela Troyano, Poster, 1985 & 1986

Bruno Facchetti Gallery, Acceptable Entertainment, 1986

Public Art Fund, David Hammons, Higher Goals, Card, 1986

Sold
Tim Rollins K.O.S, South Bronx Show Poster, 1986

Fashion Moda, Longwood Arts Gallery, and Bronx River Gallery, Tim Rollins & K.O.S, South Bronx Show, 1986

Sold

Gracie Mansion Gallery, Video Screening At Private Eyes, Folded Card, 1987

Leo Castelli Gallery, Andy Warhol, First Posthumous Exhibition Recent Works, Invitation, 1987

Red Spot, The Talking Wall Show, Flyer, 1987

Vrej Baghoomian, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Exhibition Invitation, 1988

Sold

New Waterfront Museum, Mike Cockrill, Dial 1-800-HE TOUCHED ME!, Flyer, 1988

Sold

Tony Shafrazi Gallery, Keith Haring, Poster, 1988

Bullet Space, An Act of Resistance, Card, 1989

Public Art Fund, Guerrilla Girls, Billboard Project card, 1991

Sold

Klarfeld Perry Gallery, Lady Pink, Daze, Crash, Futura 2000, Lee, Exhibition Card, 1992

Sold