Tag Archives: 80s

On Basquiat and Recent Crimes

Basquiat has been in the news this week on account of two alleged crimes: theft and fraud. In the first instance, this “Brazen” Couple Tries to Walk Out of Manhattan Gallery With a Basquiat. Nice try, brazen couple.

The other alleged crime is fraud, although the owners of these works deny that in this instance: Is the Orlando Museum of Art Displaying Fake Basquiats?

All I can say is to anyone buying these “new” Basquiats: caveat emptor.

(Image from this tumblr, which has quite a few good images of the man, including the one above.)

 

Basquiat 101

People in New York City have the great pleasure of having not one but two exhibits dedicated to him at the moment. (Not to mention his works being on display at MoMA.) If you are not familiar with him or would like to know how to better appreciate him, this piece, How to Look at a Basquiat in The New York Times is worth a read. It’s like Basquiat 101.

Better still, read it and then go check out the shows.

On the Smiths and those album covers

The Smith’s were (are?) great for many reasons. One reason in particular was their album covers. Looks like the folks at NME agree, because they put together

an exhaustive guide to each and everyone of their 27 single and album releases’ sleeves, and what they mean

You can find here. Fans of the band will enjoy that. I did.

Speaking of the Smiths, this piece by Doug Coupland, Morrissey will never be cancelled is worth a read.

The history of the 80s as it first appeared in Usenet groups

Images from the 1980s
Before the Web, there was Usenet. And like the web, it had everything. Just in text form. 🙂

Someone has mined Usenet to find the first cultural references in the 1980s to famous events. It’s an fascnating list of when things first started to gain prominence. For example:

  1. May 1981 First mention of Microsoft
  2. Dec 1982 First thread about AIDS
  3. Jul 1983 First mention of Madonna
  4. Nov 1989 First post from Berlin after the wall came down

Check it out for some major 80s flashbacks.

PS. If all you are thinking while you read this is “what the heck is Usenet??” then read this.

On Philippe Starck, now and then

Philippe Starck has been tied to my life since I was a young man in the 80s, staying at his hotels and buying what i could afford of his. Chances are you have sat in some of his chairs or seen his hotels and didn’t even know it.

He and I parted ways some time ago: my hotel staying days died down and I settled for more modest chairs. I would occasionally wonder what he was up to.

Turns out he is still making great things. Case in point, those wooden armchairs that fit together brilliantly. The chairs are…

…The first collaboration between designer Philippe Starck and Spanish furnishings manufacturer Andreu World … Their Adela Rex walnut and oak plywood armchairs are made from three molded shapes that fit together without hardware. (Take that, IKEA.) Part of World’s 100% pure wood project, the chairs are FSC Certified.

Beautiful. Perhaps one day I’ll have a chance to relax in one.

P.S. I am happy to say that not only is his career continuing, but so is his web site. It used to be a bit of a disaster from a UX perspective, but it seems to have improved. Here’s a link to part of it: Royalton hotel, New York. That hotel, like many he designed in the 80s, no longer sports his designs. But at the time it was a dream to visit and stay in.

Pop over and take a look. Perhaps the next hotel you stay in will be one of his.

P.S.S. More things on this blog about Starck, here.

The 80s were cool. Don’t believe me? Ask the kids

It’s easy to mock any era for its excesses – and the 80s had those – but it still had much good about it. Perhaps that’s one reason why some Zoomers are so wistful for that era. Your mileage may differ, but I think the kids are alright.

One of the things about that time that was great was Giorgio Armani. I love his clothes and his look then, and I still do. Here’s a good piece on what makes it great: Permanent Style.

Finally this is fun: New Yorkers and Their 80s Routines, Block by Block (NY Times)

Top image from the Armani piece, bottom from the Times piece.

On Barbara Kruger and her 2021 show

Barbara Kruger

There is a new show of Barbara Kruger’s work called: “THINKING OF YOU. I MEAN ME. I MEAN YOU.” It’s playing from now through to Jan. 24, 2022 at the Art Institute of Chicago.

I had a few thoughts on it. One thought: I believed I had two favorite artists from the 80s (Basquiat and Haring) but it turns out I have three (Kruger).  I had mistakenly not placed her in that era. But as the Times shows:

Since the early 1980s, the engine of her work, and its effectiveness, has been formatting — the candy apple red bar containing white sans serif type, rendered in Futura Bold Oblique, conveying aphorisms that could be taunts or pleas.

also

(her work started) much more humbly, as paste-ups made by hand, an extension of Kruger’s work as a graphic designer at Condé Nast magazines. Twenty of her 1980s originals are displayed in a suboptimally lit walkway. Up against the room-size works, they feel like modest afterthoughts. But up close they are deeply moving, almost innocent. Each juxtaposes a gnomic phrase with a stark black and white image, but at this scale, they scan more as private entreaties than global dictates — rave fliers for young agitators.

Second thought: just like Basquiat and Haring took their art from the street to the galleries and museums, so did Kruger.  And just like the two men, she is now a dominant part of our culture. Back to the Times:

And that underscores the complexity of revisiting Kruger at this moment in image dissemination: Her strict-rule paste-up approach to interrogating groupthink has become so defining, so signature that her innovations are now core grammar. Her art is recombinant. It exists whether or not she’s present.

Which brings me to my final thought. Sure it is easy to use elements of her work to mimic her (waves to the folks at Supreme). But looking at the work on display I can see it has power in a way that those who copy her do not. The scale, the colour, the composition: they all demonstrate the qualities she has as an artist that has made her influential and deserving of such a show.

For more, see the Times piece: Barbara Kruger: Infinitely Copied, Still Unmatched – The New York Times. Better still, go to Chicago and see the show while you can.

On places loved and lost: the Canada Square Cinema


I’m sad to see that the pandemic has claimed another victim: the Canada Square Cinema at Yonge and Eglinton. I’ve been going there since it opened in the 80s, and especially so since I moved into the neighborhood in this century.

It’s always been a lovely theatre. One thing I loved about it was how little it changed over the years. Those gray panels on the wall, that red carpet, the cup holders from eye weekly: it was like going into a time machine every time I went there. While it was frozen in time, it was well kept up. It showed good movies. (The last film I saw there was “Parasite”.) It had decent crowds. It was great to see films that had been out for awhile but missed. (It was almost like a rep theatre in that way).

Still, with so many theatres closing over the years, I was expecting it to close too. Instead it was recently upgraded. I thought: great! I will have the luxury of having two big theatre complexes in my area. Then the pandemic hit.

I’m sad to see it go, but happy for all the good movies and good times I had going to it. Go see some movies in theatres as soon as you can. We still need that experience, and we need those theatres. May the theatres that you love last for a long time.

P.S. For more on the theatre, go see BlogTO’s write up, here.

 

Friday Night Music: Paris Match (Style Council with Tracey Thorn vocals)

If you are a fan of the Style Council, as I am, I highly recommend this: Long Hot Summers: The Story of The Style Council (2020) | SHOWTIME

It’s an excellent review of the career of the musicians that made up the band, and a fine reminder of how great they were.

While there were many people interviewed for it, Tracey Thorn didn’t appear, sadly. I would have loved to hear more about how she crossed paths and became a Councillor for a time.

Watch the documentary: you’ll be glad you did. Meanwhile, check this out:

Old parts of Toronto: the 80s

To close off Toronto week here on the blog, here’s two pieces on what it was like to grow up in Toronto in the 1980s. First,  Toronto Life has 15 signs you grew up in Toronto in the 1980s. Not to be outdone, blogTO doubles that and shares 30 signs you grew up in Toronto in the 1980s 🙂

(Image from the Toronto Life piece. I loved going to Toby’s when I was in Toronto in the 80s. They were everywhere and they had good burgs. )

More on New York in the 80s


Here on my blog I like to write about one of my favourite places (NYC) and my favorite eras (the 80s). So I am happy to highlight this piece on an exhibit on the music of New York at time: New York, New Music: how the city became a hotbed for music in the 80s | Music | The Guardian.

New York then was a hotbed not only for music, but for art. After almost dying in the 60s and 70s, it started it’s Phoenix rebirth in the 80s. I was happy to be a part of it, and I often like to highlight it. That Guardian piece does a good job of capturing the place and the time.

(Photo by Bryan G. on Unsplash.  I don’t think it is of the 80s, but it is a photo of the Lower East Side and it is reminiscent of it.)

Barcelona saves Haring

I love this story. In the 80s, Haring went to a club and painted the mural you see above. To prevent it from being demolished, Barcelona City Council Steps in to Preserve a Little-known Keith Haring Mural.

Good for them! Something similar was done for a painting by Basquiat.

Here’s to the preservation of great works by great artists from the 80s.

On something being ugly but something you’ll miss when it is gone

For me, it’s this bridge which according to BlogTO is going to be demolished:

When I first moved to Toronto in the 80s I lived near this area and used to pass under this bridge all the time. There’s nothing attractive about it, save the murals, which weren’t there when I lived there.

Still, I will miss it when it is gone, ugly or not.

Friday afternoon “vacation starting” music

I am starting mine. Two weeks. Two weeks needs not one but two classics from the 80s:

And

May you enjoy your holidays and vacation, whenever it occurs.