photography legends
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Learn About Photography Legends of the ‘80s

The ‘80s was a hot time for photography, with concert photography and photos of musicians reaching peak popularity. The ‘80s were known for their creativity and innovation, bringing alive a multitude of different styles. Culture, music, and fashion were all kicked up to a hundred percent, allowing photographers to have a field day capturing the new decade of style.  

Because the ‘80s were such a peak time for outward creativity, the list of photography legends from this time period is a long one. Here are some of the most noteworthy photographers from the 1980s. 

Nan Goldin 

Nan Goldin is an American photographer who was born in 1953. She specialized in documenting those who were the closest to her. Her main topics included the LGBTQ+ community and the heroin-addicted.  

Her most famous work came from The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, including photos from 1980 to 1986. This 40-minute slideshow of 700 photographs chronicled her life in New York during the 1980s.  

Mark Weiss 

Mark Weiss had an exciting gateway into the photography business. He was arrested in his early years for taking pictures at concerts without permission and then later selling those photos to the fans. However, his arrest has the opposite effect, as it garnered the attention of many artists who liked his work.  

Throughout the ‘80s, he worked as a tour photograph for bands such as Motley Crue, Poison, Metallica, Twisted Sister, and more. His work is widely syndicated to this day.  

Jeff Wall 

Jeff Wall is a Canadian photographer who found most of his success during the late 70s and early 80s. One of his most famous works was The Destroyed Room, which he took of a woman’s trashed bedroom in 1978.  

In the early 1980s, he published Mimic, in which a white couple walks alongside an Asian man. The white male gives the Asian man a side-eye and is about to perform a racist gesture. Some of Wall’s photographers later went on to be covers of albums, such as The Destroyed Room: B-sides and Rarities by Sonic Youth.  

Felix Gonzalez-Torres 

Felix Gonzalez-Torres was an openly gay photographer who passed away when he was 38 years old in 1996. He was well known for his photography and sculptures, which he made out of objects that would be considered out of the norm, including light bulbs, candy, and more.  

He left most of his work untitled, allowing the viewer to take in the art alone, without any influence from a title. His work became more popular in the early 90s, only years before his death.  

Jack Pierson  

Like Gonzalez-Torres, Jack Pierson was also known for many mediums aside from photography. Pierson worked in sculpture, wall-drawings, word-pieces, installations, drawings, paintings, and photographs. Pierson has works all over the country in various museums, such as:  

*The Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami 

*The San Francisco Musuem of Modern Art 

*The Museum of Modern Art, New York  

*The Art Institute of Chicago  

*and The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art 

Like many other artists on this list, Pierson worked toward capturing the queer community in the ‘80s. Many of his photos were candids. He would see a couple or a group engaging together and think this would make a great photo.  

And Many More 

The ‘80s were filled with great photographers and artists, and their work is all around us, even today. Whether they were self-published in art shows or books or sold illegally at concerts, their work will continue to live forever.  

While this list includes some great ‘80s photographers, there are many more for you to research and enjoy. We hope you find an artist that you truly connect with. There’s nothing better than looking at a photograph and genuinely feeling what the photographer captured forty years ago.  

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