"In fact, the 1980s witnessed an influx of art from Europe, as Americans discovered the vanguard art was no longer an exclusively American affair. [...] In the eighties, however, exhibitions and sales of Arte Povera works, those by Beuys, and younger Neo-Expressionist German painters and British sculptors, along with work by the new Italian painters known as Transavanguardia, brought European art to the forefront of American consciousness for the first time since World War II. This new internationalism was signaled by a number of exhibitions in the early eighties that also focused on the revival of painting: “A New Spirit of Painting” at the Royal Academy of Arts, London (1981); “Zeitgeist” at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (1982); and “The New Art” at the Tate Gallery, London (1983). These were just some of the shows that spotlighted young painters such as Schnabel, along with several of his American peers, among them David Salle, Eric Fischl, Susan Rothemberg, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Robert Longo - alongside the European painters Sigmar Polke, Georg Baselitz, Francesco Clemente, Anselm Kiefer, Markus Lupertz, Jorg Immendorff, Gerhard Richter and A.R. Penck. The work of this group was often characterized as Neo-Expressionism, thought like all appellations, the label never adequately described the art or the artists’ intentions. Nevertheless, these artists did have certain characteristics in common: they embraced expression and sentiment to create art of excess, one that was emotionally and physically charged."
Lisa Phillips, The American Century: Art & Culture 1900-2000 (Part II), Whitney Museum of American Art, 1999.