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Warhol, Haring and Basquiat bring pizzazz to the mountains

The bucolic mountain resort of St Moritz is fast becoming a world-class art destination. This holds especially true from July 8 to September 4, when the works of contemporary artists from the 1980s – Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, David Salle and Andy Warhol among them – will be on view in A Selection of Works from the 1980s at the Vito Schnabel Gallery on atmospheric Via Maistra. 

Founded in 2015 by Vito Schnabel, son of artist and filmmaker Julian, the gallery is committed to cutting-edge programming that explores contemporary art and the surrounding landscape. Following on the heels of a successful inaugural exhibition dedicated to the work of Urs Fischer, as well as a public art installation by Sterling Ruby, this show promises to be a thought-provoking, mixed-media extravaganza incorporating performance art, graffiti, sculpture, video, as well as figurative and abstract painting.

Much of the work (from SFr35,000 to SFr4.5m, about £27,000 to £3.5m) involves bold, expressive elements (thick impasto brushstrokes and vibrant colours) to play up the political themes and social commentary that touch on the issues of the decade (Aids; the Iran-Iraq war; the rise of global warming; advertising as art) – from the playful, pop-art figures by Haring and Kenny Scharf (Rosso Ruska Rougette, 1984, first picture), to the street art of Rene Ricard (Poison, 1989, second picture) and Jean-Michel Basquiat (Untitled, 1981, third picture).

Among the show’s other notable works is George Condo’s Homage to Manet, 1985, an oil painting that references the work of the great impressionist painter, and which stands in stark contrast to Andy Warhol’s exploration of colour and blurring of commercial and fine-art lines in Reflected (Purple, Red, Green and Yellow on Black), 1982 (fourth picture).

Welcome unexpected elements include McDermott & McGough’s Strangers on a Train, 1921, 1989, and musician Laurie Anderson’s video projection Drum Dance, from her concert film Home of the Brave, 1986.

With the breathtaking Engadin valley as a backdrop, this promises to be one of this summer’s high-altitude visual highlights.