Language, Drama, Source and Vision
October 8 – November 27 1983
The New Museum of Contemporary Art presented its first large-scale survey of contemporary art at it’s 583 Broadway location in New York City’s SoHo district from October 8 to November 27, 1983. Organized by Marcia Tucker, Director of the New Museum, Lynn Gumpert and Ned Rifkin, Curators, “Language, Drama, Source, and Vision” included works by 68 American artists of major and emerging national reputation selected from over 300 artists whose work had been presented by the New Museum since its founding in 1977. The exhibition traced significant changes in the attitude, intent, and style of contemporary painting, sculpture, photography, video and site-specific installation through its focus on four major themes.
“Language” demonstrated the use of language in a wide range of expressions from conceptual street works (John Fekner) to the use of narratives or anecdotes (Vernon Fisher, Irv Tepper) and puns and clichés (Ed Ruscha, William Wiley).
“Drama” investigated the influence of theater as a mode of presentation, a narrative structure, or dramatic event, as exemplified by the work of Nicolas Africano, John Ahearn, Terry allen, Luis Jimenez, Barry LeVa, Ree Morton and Pat Steir, among others.
“Source” revealed the importance of mass culture as a major source of imagery and method, including television (Dara Birnbaum, Erika Rothenberg), telephone (Mr. Apology) and photography (Howardena Pindell, Al Souza).
“Vision” explored the range of abstract or nonobjective modes of working, as in the case of Nancy Arlen, Lynda Benglis, Tom Butter, Al Held, Bill Jensen, Elizabeth Murray, Joel Shapiro and Gary Stephan.
As part of the exhibition, there was a showing of videotapes by such artists as John Baldessari, Robert Cumming, Linda Montano, Allen Ruppersberg, Terry Sullivan and William Wegman, among others.1