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Press Release for Saturday, September 1, 2012

MOCA Presents Radical, Overlooked Art of the 1980s

Contact: Carl Holman, Assistant Director 

(904) 620-1921 

The Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, a cultural resource of the University of North Florida, explores the art of Generations X and Y with "ReFocus: Art of the 1980s," opening Saturday, Sept. 15, and running until Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. 


"ReFocus: Art of the 1980s" showcases the art you might have missed while you were, as Madonna sang, busy living in a material world. Many of the major figures of contemporary art —David Salle, Jean Michel-Basquiat, Keith Haring, and Eric Fischl—came to prominence during this important decade and their influences still reverberate today. While observers hailed the movements of the '80s as a "return to painting," what matters equally about the art of this era is the artists' conscious and explicit role as celebrities and the manner in which the limelight allowed them to act as interpreters, mediators, and trendsetters of cultural, social and political developments. Other established artists highlighted in the exhibition, such as Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, David Hockney and James Rosenquist, either experienced career resurgences or remained influential on the younger generation of artists during the '80s. 


"For many of the artists in this exhibition, it meant grappling with complex questions: In a world increasingly filled with mass-media images, what is the role of the visual arts? How can artists make images that either compete with or counter the powerful images produced by advertising and Hollywood?" said MOCA Director Marcelle Polednik. 


Abstract, figurative and expressionistic painting within the visual arts made a major comeback in the 1980s following nearly a decade of emphasis on video, performance, earthwork and installations that eschewed the traditional gallery or museum settings. Neo-Expressionism, new image painting, the East village scene, graffiti art and neo-conceptualism were a few of the movements that reached zeniths of varying heights and vulnerability during the era. 


"MOCA will be showcasing the important art and artists of the decade - the amazing works created by not only those artists who became household names, but also the influential ones who the public or media might have overlooked," Polednik said. 


The exhibition launches with an '80s-themed grand opening from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 15, to help visitors get in the totally radical spirit of the decade. Fun, games and music outside bring the museum alive, while inside MOCA's staff, docents and others will supervise "explanation stations" to provide families with in-depth analysis about key works and movements of the period. Café Nola also will be open for extended lunch. 


"ReFocus: Art of the 1980s" also includes substantial public programs that further the educational goals of the project. From lectures about art, history and culture to in-gallery tours; from free brochures to on-line content and audio guides, visitors to MOCA will have numerous opportunities to explore this significant period in greater depth and richness. 


MOCA is expanding the exhibition experience beyond the art through a special partnership with the Jacksonville Public Library. From books by Tom Wolfe to music by U2, plus films and other materials, the art, artists and culture from each decade come to life. Check out the pop culture universe database, special monthly programming, a selection of books, music and movies by decade and more at 


Exhibition Sponsors: Maria Cox, Julie and Michael McKenny, Dr. Barbara Sharp and Dr. Todd Sack 


Contributing Sponsors: Agility Press; Brunet-Garcia Advertising, Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville; the City of Jacksonville; Florida Division of Cultural Affairs; PRI Productions, Inc.; Sunshine Frames, Inc.; Waterproofing Specialists , Inc.; and WJCT Public Broadcasting. 


For more information about "ReFocus: Art of the 1980s" and its related activities, visit or call MOCA at (904) 366-6911.