If we take a look at the art in the first part of the 1980s it will be possible to observe some of the trends. There are a few things to clear out when looking for quality: When looking into this period we will find some very established names that are representing the most interesting art. Here we can find Joseph Beuys, Andy Warhol, Dan Graham, Donald Judd, Sol Lewitt, Lawrence Weiner,
Richard Long, Cy Twombly, Mario Merz, Michelangelo Pistoletto etc. All of them had already been chosen many times and have established networks. They can also be seen as leading members of well known art movements like pop, minimalism, conceptual art, arte povera. Still today their positions in the art world have not changed. But then we have all the new names and the new trends characterizing the early 80s. The strong movement of new painting: Italians: Chia, Clemente, Cucchi, Paladino.
USA: Julian Schnabel, David Salle, Eric Fischl, Roberto Longo, Jean Michel Basquiat.
Germany: Baselitz, Penck, Immendorf, Kiefer, Hödicke, Salomé, Fetting, Middendorf, Richter, Polke, Albert Oehlen, Martin Kippenberger and Danish Per Kirkeby.
We also have the British sculpture: Tony Cragg,
Antony Gormley, Bill Woodrow And the photo conceptualists from the USA and
Canada: Cindy Sherman, Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine, Jenny Holzer, Louis Lawler, Jeff Wall.
And others of great interest at that time like: Gerhard Merz, Wolfgang Laib, Jonathan Borofsky, Joel Shapiro. Which of these survived the following 20 years? If we use the ranking from artfacts.net we will find this list:
Gerhard Richter 4* (postmodern, distance, non-authentic)
Cindy Sherman 11* (postmodern, postfeminism)
Sigmar Polke 15* (postmodern, non-authentic painting)
Martin Kippenberger + 16* (non-authentic authentic)
Baselitz 18 (real painter, upside down)
Jeff Wall 45* (photoconceptualism with picture quotations)
Anselm Kiefer 56 (German history)
Immendorf 88 (German contemporary history)
Tony Cragg 98 (expansion of the bounds of sculpture)
Albert Oehlen 104* (postmodern, fake paintings)
Penck 116 (real painter with a strong trade mark)
Jenny Holzer 119* (postmodern, sculpture as words)
Lüpertz 132 (real painter)
Barbara Kruger 164 (postmodern, postfeminism)
Keith Haring + 180 (graffiti artist)
Paladino 216 (real painter)
Clemente 223 (real painter)
Louise Lawler 228 (postmodern, appropriation)
Jean Michel Basquiat + 237 (graffiti based artist)
Per Kirkeby 245 (real painter, experimental sculpture, fluxus)
Sherrie Levine 246 (postmodern, appropriation)
(The asterisk is showing artists who still are of interest in the contemporary art of today).
It is quite clear that the survivors are connected to the dominating trends. Post-modern non-authentic painting is one of the main qualities while those artists being more or less traditional expressionists have faded away. Not that these artists have totally lost their carrier. Any artist being a part of a strong trend will create a network good enough for a reasonable future. Photo-conceptualism, post-feminism and appropriation have also become a strong survivor while the previous domination of painters like Schnabel and Salle has lost most of its position. The pioneers of graffiti have also become a part of the quality of the 80s.
Tony Cragg New Stones Newton’s tone 1978