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PRINT October 2001

Hit or Myth

BY THE TIME I BEGAN STUDYING ART HISTORY IN THE MID-’90s, DOUGLAS CRIMP’S 1977 GROUP show “Pictures” had achieved the quasi-mythic status of those exhibitions we latecomers can imagine we’ve seen, even if we haven't. Like the Jewish Museum’s “Primary Structures,” Michael Fried’s “Three American Painters,” or even Damien Hirst’s “Freeze,” "Pictures” seems less an object of history than of folklore in the minds of those too young to have seen it firsthand. With that show, we are told, a canny critic inaugurated the enticingly slick and brainy strain of '80s art, and we might envision a gallery space in which Richard Prince’s Marlboro man gallops alongside Cindy Sherman as she mugs for the camera, with Sherrie Levine’s rephotographed sharecropper grimacing nearby. Never mind that none of these iconic works had yet been realized at the time of the exhibition’s opening, or for that matter that

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