Les années 1980, l’insoutenable légèreté, Centre Pompidou, Paris

Centre Pompidou revives an iconic decade through its collection of film and photographs, spanning across 60 works and featuring over 20 artists. Les Années 1980 displays works, both famous and obscure, which focus on the Western and American experience of the era and portray the criticisms of culture and society through a variety of themes and techniques.

Showcasing artists such as Florence Paradeis, Jean-Paul Goude and Martin Parr, the exhibition highlights the variety of strategies used during this time: irony, realistic or imaginative staging, pastiche, subverted sets and odes to artifice. The breadth of techniques imitates a move away from neo-documentary forms and the emergence of the manufactured Baroque form of photography that represents much of the work produced in the 1980s. Beyond the all-inclusive concept of post-modernism, the 1980s saw the emergence of new issues that were both poetic and political. Hybridisation, humour, irony, eroticism and nostalgia are all keys to interpreting the art of this period, particularly its photography.

A focal point of the exhibition is the contrasting geopolitical and economic ideologies between East and West as the division between capitalist democracies and centralised totalitarian worsened with a new global economy. This period proved to have significant effects on photography in France as several major museums and collections developed under a new impulse, creating a rich heritage for future artists. A new generation of “painter-photographers” appeared, breaking away from the traditional styles of previous generations to erode the barrier between photography and painting. Furthermore, the development of large formats and the Polaroid camera provided new opportunities for artists to search for new forms and themes in classic photography. The exhibition draws us into the aesthetics and sometimes popular iconography typical of this period and geography.

Featured artists include: BazileBustamante, Agnès Bonnot, David Buckland, Ellen Carey, Clegg & Guttmann, Tom Drahos, Jean-Paul Goude, Hergo, Karen Knorr, Elizabeth Lennard, Joachim Mogarra, Patrick Nagatani, Paul de Nooijer, Alice Odilon, Florence Paradeis, Martin Parr, Pierre et Gilles, Présence Panchounette.

For more, visit www.centrepompidou.fr.

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1. La muse Grace Jones, photographiée en 1981 par Jean-Paul Goude © Jean-Paul Goude / Coll. part.