With the rebirth of expressionism in the late 1970s, artists in Europe and America spliced figures and scenes from everyday life with myth and dream. Their loose, fast style was dubbed neo-expressionism or New Painting, catch-phrases that encompass everything from Kenny Scharf's insidious cartoon fantasies to Enzo Cucchi's portrayals of ``presences'' to Anselm Kiefer's eerie mixed-media landscapes that evoke a Germany scarred by the Holocaust. With a marvelous eye for separating the real thing from trash, London-based art critic Godfrey has produced the best survey to date of figurative painting in the '80s. Proclaiming the death of the School of Paris, he examines French artists struggling to create a new pictorial language. Treading carefully through New York's SoHo and the East Village, he singles out such artists as Keith Haring, Susan Rothenberg, Julian Schnabel and Brad Davis. There is much that is significant in today's art scene, and this exhilarating, intelligent report captures the creative ferment. (October 17
This international survey is a useful introduction to painting in the 1980s, one of the few to treat ``New Image'' or ``Neo-X'' painting. Beginning with such German painters as Sigmar Polke and George Baselitz, Godfrey traces the return of painting to center stage of art's intellectual milieu and the seemingly simultaneous reappearance of content and figure as issues in post-modern painting. His readable and comprehensive text surveys the Italian, English, and French artists and of course the painters and the art market of New York; he discusses famous and less known artists in each country, but glosses over non-Western influences on the Germans. His analysis is both critical and explicatory, although he tends to reach for easy symbolism. Good reproductions and an index. Recommended for public libraries. Calvin Reid, ``Library Journal''