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BRIGHT LIGHT, BIG CITY: THE ’80s WITHOUT WALLS

In Buffalo, in art school, Cindy Sherman sat down in a photo booth and gave the camera a look. She came up under Lucille Ball’s face so successfully that her own face subsided. Most people her age were swimming in another direction, preferring the pond of their own nonconformity. Hers was a different, though still contrary position: The negative of your negative is my Lucy. This idea had led her first toward elaborately unpredictable appearances at parties. Her boyfriend, the artist Robert Longo, suggested she combine them with her work. Was he proposing an imitation of life? The two of them moved to New York together in the summer of 1977, the summer of the blackout and the string of murders by a man calling himself the Son of Sam.

That same year David Salle, who had come to New York from CalArts in 1975, took a job teaching drawing at the Hartford School of Art. He brought various friends

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