For art in New York, the 1980s were the beginning of the end.
The end did not mean that significant art would no longer be made there, nor that droves of ambitious younger artists would cease to relocate to the city from around the country and even the world. It is and they do.
Instead, New York began to wrap up its heady run as art's foremost, even singular social condenser — the only place on the planet where the closely watched emergence of important new art really mattered. The city had occupied that position for two generations, after Europe's demolition in World War II.
But in the 1980s, change was afoot. Stirrings in Cologne, Los Angeles and London announced...