The Pictures Generation

Young artists who came of age in the early 1970s were greeted by an America suffused with disillusionment from dashed hopes for political and social transformation to the continuation of the Vietnam War and the looming Watergate crisis. The utopian promise of the counterculture had devolved into a commercialized pastiche of rebellious stances prepackaged for consumption, and the national mood was one of catatonic shell-shock in response to wildly accelerated historical change, from the sexual revolution to race riots and assassinations. Similarly, the elder generation of artists seemed to have both dramatically expanded the field of what was possible in the field of art while staking out its every last claim, either by dematerializing the aesthetic object entirely into the realm of pure idea or linguistic proposition as in Conceptualism, or by rivaling the cataclysmic processes and sublime vistas of the natural world itself.What these fledgling artists did have fully to themselves was the sea of images into which they were born—the media culture of movies and television, popular music, and magazines that to them constituted a sort of fifth element or a prevailing kind of weather.

Walking Gun, 1991; Laurie Simmons (American, born 1949); Gelatin silver print; 53 x 89 in.; © Laurie Simmons

Walking Gun, 1991; Laurie Simmons (American, born 1949); Gelatin silver print; 53 x 89 in.; © Laurie Simmons

Source: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/pcgn/hd_p...