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JUST EXQUISITE?: RICHARD TUTTLE

THE ’90s HAVE NEVER REALLY themselves. Exceptions noted—Matthew Barney, for example—the best art to emerge in the decade has been physically modest and antirhetorical. That’s reasonable enough, given the grandstanding of the ’80s. In place of massive canvases, reliefs, or bronzes, artists such as Tom Friedman have favored materials like typing paper, masking tape, and bubblegum; instead of crisp layouts, press type, Photostats, and various state-of-the-art advertising techniques, Raymond Pettibon has stuck to hand lettering and drawing on dog-eared or otherwise distressed sheets of paper. And despite the sometimes vast scale of his installations, you may find Ilya Kabakov’s dystopian worldview succinctly summarized in a single dangling specimen composed of string, wire, and assorted found objects or in a crumpled ball of tissue paper lying inconspicuously on the floor near the baseboard

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