All angular fields of pastel color atop each other
August 23, 2008 11:12 AM   Subscribe

Was there a name for this '80s kitsch art aesthetic?

Last night I saw Richard Elfman's Forbidden Zone, and I was delighted (and offended, appalled, and delighted again). The extremely stylized art reminded me of so many things I saw when I was just a kid in the '80s -- Zippy the Pinhead, Lynda Barry, set designs in Tim Burton's early work like Pee-Wee's Playhouse and Beetlejuice. There was a retro-Googie day-glo feel to everything.

Was there a "school" of High Weirdness coming out of California at that time? Or is it just a number of trends started by one designer or another, all running together? I do apologize for not knowing quite how to describe it.
posted by Countess Elena to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Correct link.

Great question. I love seeing that stuff again.
posted by jayder at 11:39 AM on August 23, 2008

The Memphis Group had a lot to do with it. More here with some examples.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 12:38 PM on August 23, 2008

Don't forget the "Saved By The Bell" opening credits!
posted by Asparagirl at 1:16 PM on August 23, 2008

Best answer: The 1970s-1990s were the heyday of Neo-Expressionism, which had a lot to do with it. Rebellion against the simplistic modernism that had marked the 1950s and 1960s. A return to personal as opposed to conceptual art.

The Memphis Group certainly influenced visual arts during the era, as did architectural postmodernism (Michael Graves being an element in both). There was also the New Image movement (which I believe continues to have influence in Britain today).

What you're talking about was probably closer in tone to the East Village scene. The era had an uneasy relationship with commercialism, as evidenced by the "Boho" label often associated with it (as the Soho neighborhood was already a locus of gentrification).

SBTB is an example of pop art from the era, but it was really a rather trickled-down version, heavily influenced less by art movements per se than by new video compositing technology.
posted by dhartung at 1:54 PM on August 23, 2008

I don't know if it has any particular name, but it seems to be making a come back.
posted by wigglin at 2:35 PM on August 23, 2008

Response by poster: The Memphis Group! Being familiar with the actual Memphis, TN makes this an even better name for it, as far as I'm concerned. Thanks!
posted by Countess Elena at 4:17 PM on August 23, 2008

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