PERHAPS BECAUSE THE 1980s are the next to last decade of the 20th century, they have been a period in which much critical discourse has focused on closure. The dropping of the curtains on Modernism, individualism, conventional narrative, and abstraction have all been pronounced faits accomplis. Many artists have consciously used methods and materials that signify agreement with these theoretical agendas. Appropriation, for example, tells the viewer that the artist doesn’t believe in originality, while the use of a seemingly nonhierarchical collage esthetic is a clue that the maker questions traditional distinctions between popular culture and “high” art. It has also been suggested that the use of photography and the presentation or manipulation of store-bought items signify , critical stabs at both Modernist styles and commodity culture.

If we look closely at movies, television, newspapers,

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the April 1989 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.