PRINT January 1990


TO HAVE AN EFFECT, art must find an audience. To find an audience, it generally not only makes its peace with art-world institutions but actively collaborates with them. By collaborating with the most powerful institutions in its immediate neighborhood, art compromises its attack on the institutions of the larger society.

Critics often praise art for offering a critique of institutions, especially those of the commercial media, and it’s true that artists have labored to supply the criticism that institutions so obviously need. They have also tried to circumvent the necessity of collaboration with those institutions: in certain kinds of Conceptual work, in such forms as mail and Xerox art, in graffiti, in street performance, and other such. But I am talking from the perspective of the end of the ’80s, a decade when the traditional esthetic means of painting and sculpture—often, moreover, of

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