PRINT September 1995


THOUGH LATELY IT MAY SEEM as if art’s lost its polemical edge—as if there were no more compelling issues or revolutionary chapters, only strategic maneuvers—signs abound of a new kind of work well versed in the methods of institutional critique, informed by sociopolitical themes, yet reveling in its “objecthood.” Flaunting its savvy, it dramatizes previous esthetic and social polemics in elaborately staged narratives infused with romance, mystery, and perversion. Shuttling between yesteryear’s frisson and the limbo of the present, this hybrid sensibility constitutes the “retro-Romantic.”

The path toward this new frontier has been charted by artists such as Matthew Barney, whose work engages us by exploiting our fascination with uncanny creatures and their uncontrollable libidos, and Andrea Zittel, who encourages us to project ourselves into unsettlingly regimented domestic environments

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