Maruani Mercier is pleased to present a group exhibition with a selection of eighteen artworks all executed in the same year, lending the presentation its title: 1986.
In the history of the United States, the year 1986 is remarkable for its major developments in science, technology and mass culture, marking a period of breakthrough and upheaval. IBM unveiled the very first laptop computer, the protocol for what would later become e-mail was designed, Halley's Comet became the first to be observed in detail by spacecraft and the Human Genome Project launched. At the same time, there emerged a growing distrust in these forms of progress and the governments who championed them, triggered by events such as the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and the escalating AIDS crisis. This occurred in the midst of the ‘yuppie decade’, in which American wealth and consumerism reached new heights, and the wildly popular Oprah Winfrey show became emblematic of an increased obsession with celebrity and a merging of the public and private realms.
Made in 1986, the works in this exhibition were also created at the threshold of a new era in the art world, which was set to become increasingly global and high-powered. Biennales and international art fairs emerged across all continents, challenging the dominance of Europe and the United States. While the artists included here responded to national and global developments, they were mostly embedded in the preeminent New York scene. Five of them first showed together as part of the ‘neo-geometric conceptualist movement’ that emerged in the early 1980s, with the East Village at its center. Including Peter Halley, Ross Bleckner, Haim Steinbach, Philip Taaffe and Allan McCollum, this group of artists directly responded to what Peter Halley called the ‘geometricisation of modern life’, a world increasingly organised through mechanisation and commercialisation.