PRINT March 2003


Editor’s Note

This is an intermediate moment where people are going to reminisce and at least begin to study the period. But to me it doesn’t seem historical because so many of the developments of the ’80s . . . are still unfolding.

—Jeff Wall in Artforum, March 2003

AIMING TO SECURE A BRIEF ESSAY ON A CULTURAL MILESTONE OF THE 1980s for this issue (the first of two devoted to the art of that decade), I phoned a favorite—and famously “difficult”—contributor, who had made his name as a critic in those years. His response, while on the face of it astonishing, didn’t entirely surprise me: “I remember nothing of the ’80s. Not a thing.” Indeed, the retort was fully in character, and I suspected it was little more than a rhetorical flourish aimed at calling me on my shabby conceit of parsing cultural history into tidy decades. He would come around. I felt sure of it.

But three or four subsequent conversations

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