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Re exhibiting the 1981 exhibition, A New Spirit in Painting shown at London’s Royal Academy of Arts, this exhibition demonstrates the exquisite art of painting through the work of 38 artists across America and Europe.

Following a decade of minimal and conceptual art, the 1981 exhibition took the art world by storm, but was not without controversy. Exhibiting pieces from the original show, combined with significant archive material from the Whitechapel Gallery and Royal Academy of Arts, this revival explores the challenging questions that arose in reaction to the exhibit at the time – was it revolutionary of reactionary? Did it ultimately speak to a return to conservatism in art, rather than a move to correct the anti-aesthetic art of the 1970’s?

Either way, this exhibition had a major impact on the art world and painting as an artistic discipline, triggering a sequence of solo surveys of painters including Georg Baselitz, Cy Twombly, Anselm Kiefer, Malcolm Morley and Julian Schnabel, who went on to define painting in the 1980’s.

Whitechapel Gallery

77-82 Whitechapel High Street, London, Greater London, E1 7QX

020 7522 7888


Opening times

Tue – Sun, 11am – 6pm (Thu until 9pm)

Booking required

Closed 24 – 26 Dec

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