In 1982, the New Museum debuted Currents, a series of solo exhibitions designed to present a significant body of work by artists from across the United States whose work had not received critical attention or public exposure. Featuring important artists who were as yet unknown in New York City, the format offered the public the opportunity to view these individual artists’ works in-depth, often as site-specific installations. The series also inaugurated a new publication format, as each exhibition was accompanied by a brochure featuring a critical essay, documentation, selected biography, and bibliography, forming a historical record with expository material as a basis for future scholarship.
Exhibitions in the Currents series were presented as paired solo shows, with the exception of an exhibition of David Ireland, whose environmental installation ran concurrently with a ten-year survey of Martin Puryear’s sculptures in 1984. Ireland’s exhibition also marked a shift in the curatorial criteria for Currents to specifically emphasize mid-career artists who were, as yet, under-recognized in New York. The emphasis on mid-career artists would continue until the close of the series in 1985.
1982 – 1985