Exhibition view: Group Exhibition, A New Spirit Then, A New Spirit Now 1981-2018, Almine Rech Gallery, London (2 October–17 November 2018). Courtesy Almine Rech Gallery.
LONDON—In 1981, the Royal Academy of Arts in London put on an exhibition of 20th century painting that changed the art world. A New Spirit in Painting was 'a manifesto,' the accompanying catalogue said; it showcased a set of contemporary, mostly European painters, whose work possessed qualities—figurative, narrative, emotional, personal—that were being undervalued by the western art world the time. There were 38 artists from three generations on display: the grandfathers, such as Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon, Roberto Matta, and Willem de Kooning; the fathers, including Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Frank Stella, and Lucian Freud; and the sons, who were less familiar names at the time, such as Georg Baselitz, Julian Schnabel, Francesco Clemente, and Gerhard Richter.
Nearly 40 years later, one of the original curators, Norman Rosenthal, has revisited this seminal exhibition with A New Spirit Then, A New Spirit Now, 1981-2018, a two-part show spread across two of the Almine Rech Gallery's spaces. Earlier this year a few paintings from the 1981 exhibition were on view in New York, comprising the Then portion. In London, currently, are more recent works (Now) made by the same artists.