The New York City art scene in the 1980s was a lot different than it is now, but then again, so was the city as a whole. For those of us who weren't there, the stories of just how cool and full of talent everyone was are all we have. From private diaries to tell-all books, we read about the wild parties and the new kids who would forever change the way we think about art, and most of it seems unreal.
Photographer Jeannette Montgomery Barron was there, but she wasn't really into the party scene. Instead, she captured portraits of young artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cindy Sherman, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Julian Schnabel, who are now considered the heavyweights of the era, as well as several other talented people like William S. Burroughs, Willem Dafoe, Bianca Jagger, and Dennis Hopper because she was "fascinated with energy of the individuals."
"Everyone was photographing the same people in the same area downtown," says the photographer in a feature published on VICE. She also acknowledged that it was a very different time. "You always romanticise the past but I do think it was a different environment...New York was a place you could live and work as an artist. That's all changed. It's really hard now unless you're super successful, which is why lots of people end up in LA."
Montgomery Barron also shares personal stories of her interactions with the artists. Of her portrait of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, she remembers that "Jean-Michel was really stoned. I mean, he had smoked these huge spliffs. Andy was in awe of him."
To read more of the stories and to see more photos, click here.