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No more heroes

  • 23 March 2024
  • 15 September 2024
  • Kunsthal Helmond

No more heroes

Art from the Eighties

The Eighties was all about economic downturn, anarchy, the threat of nuclear weapons, doom and gloom, and very few prospects. But it was also the time of new wave, a great deal of freedom of thought, and an ‘averse-to-status’ attitude. In the art, too, it introduces a lot of freedom: strict rules and inflexible demands on style are rejected out of hand. They are replaced with unfettered brushstrokes and bright, intense colours. Artists start to work based on their hearts instead of their heads.


This decade is devoted to a return to the art of painting. In the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Italy, it was young artists in particular who picked up the brush and used it to capture on canvas the world around them and its history. For the first time, American graffiti artists were given a platform in galleries or museums. Industrial spray paint moved from subway doors to canvas or museum walls.

Dondi White, Modern Prophets, 1980, spraypaint on canvas

Dondi White, Modern Prophets, 1980, spray paint on canvas

It was during these years that the foundation was laid for a collection of modern and contemporary art. Cutting-edge art was acquired. Museum Helmond is one of the few places in the Netherlands where 1980s painting is represented so well: from graffiti to neo-expressionist movements such as Figuration Libre and the Neue Wilden.

René Daniëls, Academie, 1982, oil on canvas

René Daniëls, Academie, 1982, oil on canvas

Freedom, few rules and anarchy

Around forty years later, we look back on this period and present a selection from the vast collection acquired between the period from 1978 to 1988. The title, ‘No more heroes’, is borrowed from a number by The Stranglers, which refers to this special era, a time in which freedom, few rules, and anarchy reigned supreme.


It includes work by René Daniëls, Blade, Rammellzee, Reinier Lucassen, Roger Raveel, Alphons Freijmuth, Milan Kunc, Robert Combas, François Boisrond, and Chuck Nanney.




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