PRINT April 2003

’80s AGAIN

Matthew Ritchie

It took me until ’93 to really realize just how thoroughly American artists of the ’80s had disconnected themselves from the entire structure and burden of art history. They embraced and as quickly rejected anything that took their fancy, from French philosophy to hedonistic capitalism and pseudo-revolution. But the ambition and greed of this scorched-earth approach ended up being totally liberating. When the smoke cleared, anything was possible, and with that freedom came the redefinitions of context, responsibility, and practice that defines much of ’90s art: the kind of nominally coherent but totally individualized internal narratives and ecologies that link practices as diverse as those of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Matthew Barney, Robert Gober, Cindy Sherman, David Hammons, and Rirkrit Tiravanija.

As told to Tim Griffin