Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Complicity and criticism: “Neo-Geo” art of the 1980's
by Brandt, Amy L., Ph.D., City University of New York, 2011, 300; 3460269
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines the deconstructive underpinnings of the so-called Neo-Geo group of the 1980‘s and explores links between Neo-Geo and the Pictures or Appropriation artists of the late 1970‘s. Neo-Geo emerged in the early 1980‘s as one aspect of New York‘s nascent East Village arts scene. The movement--also dubbed Simulationism, Neo-Pop, Neo-Minimalism or Post-Abstraction--primarily encompassed eight independent-minded artists, including painters Ashley Bickerton (b. 1959), Peter Halley (b. 1953), Sherrie Levine (b. 1947), Allan McCollum (b. 1944), Philip Taaffe (b. 1953) and Meyer Vaisman (b.1960). These artists were attributed the Neo-Geo moniker in 1986 based on their use of geometric forms and their appropriation of art historical motifs and styles from well-established artists. Sculptors Jeff Koons (b. 1955) and Haim Steinbach (b. 1944) were initially labeled as Neo-Geo, then also as Commodity Artists beginning in 1986. The varied epithets for this group represent critics‘ attempts to understand and classify the broad range of mediums and appropriative methodologies employed by these artists. It has all along been a questionable act to characterize this group under one cohesive name, as if they constituted a singular movement. Many of these artists had been a part of the East Village scene since 1980 or earlier, but they were only discussed and labeled by the art press at a time when their work gained significant popularity among prominent collectors and dealers. While the Neo-Geo artists differ substantially, their work nonetheless explored some common themes and pursued some strategies in common. Neo-Geo artists created paintings and sculptures that functioned, in a sense, in a textual manner. This diverse group collectively shared an interest in examining the terms, limits and structures of art history and various aspects of the society-at-large, including commodity capitalism and digital culture, in a deconstructive manner. Rooted within an amalgamation of art historical sources, Neo-Geo built upon the strategies of Pop, Minimalist, Conceptualist and Pictures artists in the creation of a diverse body of work. As I demonstrate, Neo-Geo used pastiche and strategies of parodying certain art historical paradigms to create new dialogues within contemporary art.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Chave, Anna C.
Commitee: Hadler, Mona, Senie, Harriet, Siegel, Katy
School: City University of New York
Department: Art History
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 72/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Art history
Keywords: 1980, Appropriation, Artists, Deconstruction, East Village, Neo-Conceptualism, Neo-Geo, New York City
Publication Number: 3460269
ISBN: 978-1-124-71852-1
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