Brand New: Art and Commodity in New York, 1979-1989

A panel discussion led by Gianni Jetzer, curator-at-large at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.


Please note that due to weather and school closing, this event has been rescheduled from the original date of February 9, 2017 and is being held on Thursday, February 16, 2017.

Thursday, February 16, 2017 from 6:30 – 8 pm

CP Projects Space

132 West 21st Street, 10th floor, New York, NY 10011

Free and open to the public.


The MA Curatorial Practice program at SVA is pleased to present Brand New: Art and Commodity in New York, 1979-1989, a panel discussion led by Gianni Jetzer, curator-at-large at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. His exhibition of the same title will premier next year at the Hirshorn. Jetzer will be in conversation with renowned artist Julia Wachtel, who came of age as an artist in the 1980s, and Leah Pires, PhD candidate at Columbia University and Whitney Independent Study Program Fellow, whose research focuses examines new modes of authorship and critique emerging at the turn of the 1980s, with a focus on the work of Louise Lawler and her collaborators.


The panel will shed new light on the key artists who came to prominence in New York’s East Village art scene during the 1980s—a decade fueled by dramatic shifts in politics, technology, and the economy that brought a remarkable era of explosive artistic production in which art and commodities were fused, and artists became brands to a degree never seen before. Jetzer will provide a sneak preview of this groundbreaking exhibition, offering behind-the-scene insights and discoveries gained through his in-depth research. Wachtel will share first-hand experiences of the people and scene in relation to her own work, while Pires will talk about some of the leading artists of the period, including Lawler, Sherrie Levine, Jenny Holzer and Richard Prince, among others.


Brand New: Art and Commodity in New York, 1979-1989 is part of MA Curatorial Practice’s public programs, which are free and open to the public. Panel discussions and conversations by leading cultural producers from around the world focus on critical, social, political and cultural issues—both current and historical—that inform and shape contemporary curatorial practices and artistic discourse.






Gianni Jetzer is curator-at-large at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., and an independent curator and critic based in New York. He created many exhibitions in his roles as curator at Migros Museum in Zurich (1998–2001), director of Kunsthalle St. Gallen (2001–2006) and director of Swiss Institute in New York (2006–2013). He is currently the curator of Unlimited, Art Basel's pioneering exhibition platform for projects that transcend the limitations of a classical art show. Jetzer has contributed to catalogues, art magazines and newspapers, such as Parkett, Flash Art, Spike and Kaleidoscope, and published books on Andro Wekua, Saskia Olde Wolbers, Shirana Shahbazi and Richard Phillips. Jetzer is a faculty member at SVA’s MFA Fine Arts program and was previously a lecturer in the Master of Arts in Fine Arts program, Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK).


Leah Pires is a writer and curator living in New York, where she is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Art History at Columbia University and a recent Helena Rubinstein Critical Studies Fellow at the Whitney Independent Study Program. Her dissertation, currently in progress, examines new modes of authorship and critique emergent at the turn of the 1980s through the work of Louise Lawler and her collaborators. Pires has published writing in Triple Canopy, is the editor of an edition of October Files on the work of Daniel Buren forthcoming from MIT Press and will contribute an essay to Rochelle Goldberg: The Cannibal Actif (Totem Press, 2016).  Finesse, a curatorial project derived from her dissertation research, opened at Columbia’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery in January 2017.


Julia Wachtel has exhibited nationally and internationally for the last thirty years. Recent shows include solo exhibitions at the Bergen Kunsthall in Norway, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Elizabeth Dee Gallery in New York City and Vilma Gold Gallery in London. Her work has been seen in group exhibitions at the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN), Le Consortium (Dijon, France), Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Migros Museum (Zurich), the Saatchi Gallery and Zabludowicz Collection (London), Gavin Brown’s Enterprise and Aldus Greenspon (New York City), among others. Her work will appear in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Fast Forward: Painting from the 1980s in winter 2017, as well as in Jetzer’s Hirshhorn exhibition. In fall 2017, a new solo exhibition of her work will open at Elizabeth Dee Gallery.

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MA Curatorial Practice 
School of Visual Arts

132 W. 21st Street, 10th Floor 
New York, NY 10011-3203


Tel: 212.592.2274
Fax: 212.592.2555