"Language, Drama, Source & Vision"
October 8 - November 27 1983

Language, Drama, Source, and Vision Organized by Lynn Gumpert, Ned Rifkin, and Marcia Tucker "We have provided a comprehensive view of our origins and our history through an inaugural exhibition which has been drawn from the thirty-three shows we have conceived, mounted, and documented since the Museum was founded in January, 1977…As we began work on the inaugural exhibition, four distinct areas of investigation became immediately evident. A preoccupation with language as process, system and metaphor was discernible as a dominant aspect of many of these artists' works. The influence of theater, its various conventions and dramatic strategies, has also profoundly shaped the profile of art for more than a decade now. In addition, the omnipresence of the mass media in our society has engendered a seemingly ever-widening primary source, a cross cultural touchstone for today's artists. Finally, abstraction, the uniquely twentieth-century art phenomenon, continues to provide many artists with the challenge of exploring an inner vision for a viable mode of creative enterprise which emphatically eschews the world of concrete imagery and objects." Language, Drama, Source, and Vision brochure. “The New Museum’s inaugural exhibition in its new home traced critical changes in the attitude, intent, methodology and style of contemporary painting, sculpture, photography, video and performance pieces, and focused on four major themes: 1) The concern with language, either as an integral aspect of the work or as epistemological exploration; 2) The influence of theater, as a mode of presentation, a narrative structure and a dramatic event; 3) The importance of mass media, including television, newspapers, film, and advertising as a major source of imagery and method in contemporary art.; 4) Works of art in a nonobjective mode, which explore issues by means of visual metaphor, abstraction ors systemic analysis. The work of approximately fifty artist was presented, selected from the over 300 artist whose work had been exhibited at The New Museum or been included in Art Quest studio tours, and Arts Updated lecture series. This exhibition provided both an overview of the Museum’s exhibition activity in its six-year history and, more importantly, a review of some of the crucial concerns that have characterized the art of our own time.”

New Museum curators
Courtesy the Artist and New Museum Archive