East Village Art


The East Village scene, active in downtown New York in the early 1980s, comprised a group of incredibly diverse young artists. Encompassing music, poetry, writing, and the visual arts, the period saw the rise of Punk, No Wave, graffiti art, and Neo-Expressionist painting. It also witnessed an explosion of galleries in the neighborhood, often run by the artists themselves, as well as alternative spaces and collectives. Social life and artistic life blurred, with artists making work directly on the street and clubs providing an important new type of venue for introducing novel forms of expression. The free-for-all of the East Village scene introduced a pantheon of big names, like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer, Jeff Koons, and David Wojnarowicz, in addition to the musicians Patti Smith, Blondie, Madonna, Sonic Youth, and the Strokes. While no single style united these artists, their work often embraced figuration, a notable development following the dominance of abstract art in prior decades. The East Village scene reached its peak from 1982 to 1984, responding to the Reaganomic boom of the 1980s, and by 1986 had run its course.