The 1980s was arguably the most exciting time for artists in Downtown New York, and photographer Jeannette Montgomery Barron was there to capture so many of the big names from that lush and fertile era, including Warhol, Haring, Basquiat, and Sherman.
Her black and white images from her series Scene are timeless; it’s hard to believe that these remarkable portraits were taken over 30 years ago, often in the artists’ own environments – their apartments, a studio, or on the city streets.
“Artist Portraits from the 80s”, which showcases the images that made the photographer a name in New York’s downtown art scene during the times of the Factory. In a sense, the collection of up-close-and-personal portraits of artists, models, and culture-makers evoke the air of persistence and defiance. Barroncaptured a plethora of art revolutionaries: Keith Harring, Jenny Holzer, Francesco Clemente, Bianca Jagger, and Andy Warhol, among others, during trying times that were both political and personal. The inspiration to show these portraits stems from younger generations’ “romanticized” view of the ’80s. But it’s also an indirect response to modern life, its culture, politics, and the first three months of 2020.
Montgomery Barron was one of those “daring young things”. The series could almost be seen as a diary of her life during that fascinating decade – from her spilling out into the city streets at dawn following a night at Mudd Club or the Palladium to lunches at Andy Warhol’s Factory to visits to the gym with Bianca Jagger.
Her first portrait was of Francesco Clemente, which led to one of Andy Warhol and then pictures of friends Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. That was the turning point in her career when she began to capture all the icons of that time: Cindy Sherman, William Burroughs, Sandro Chia, Jenny Holzer, Robert Mapplethorpe, Kathryn Bigelow – to name a few.