In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a group of young artists in New York City began to experiment with photography in a way that would change the art world forever.
Known as the Pictures Generation, these artists used photography and other forms of media to explore themes of consumerism, mass media, and popular culture.
Today, the Pictures Generation is recognized as one of the most influential movements in contemporary art, and its impact can still be felt in the work of many artists today.
Origins of the Pictures Generation
The Pictures Generation emerged in the late 1970s, a time of great social and political change in the United States.
The Vietnam War had ended, the Watergate scandal had rocked the nation, and the economy was in a state of flux.
Against this backdrop, a group of young artists began to experiment with photography and other forms of media as a way of exploring the changing nature of American culture.
One of the key figures in the Pictures Generation was Sherrie Levine, who gained attention for her work in which she appropriated images from well-known photographers and artists, such as Walker Evans and Marcel Duchamp.
Levine’s work challenged the idea of originality in art, and her use of appropriation became a hallmark of the Pictures Generation.
Other important figures in the movement included Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, and Barbara Kruger.
Sherman, in particular, gained attention for her photographs in which she posed as various characters, including a housewife, a movie star, and a clown.
These images explored the ways in which women were represented in popular culture, and they challenged traditional notions of beauty and femininity.
Themes and Techniques of the Pictures Generation
The Pictures Generation was characterized by a number of themes and techniques that set it apart from other contemporary art movements.
One of the most prominent themes was the exploration of consumer culture and mass media.
Many of the artists in the movement were interested in the ways in which images were used to sell products and shape public opinion.
They used photography and other media to deconstruct these images and reveal the ways in which they were constructed.
Another important theme was the exploration of identity and representation.
Many of the artists in the Pictures Generation were interested in the ways in which people were represented in popular culture, and they used photography and other media to challenge these representations.
For example, Cindy Sherman’s photographs of herself in various roles challenged traditional ideas of femininity and beauty.
In terms of technique, the Pictures Generation was characterized by the use of appropriation and re-photography.
Many of the artists in the movement appropriated images from popular culture and re-photographed them in order to create new meanings.
This technique allowed them to challenge the original source material and create something new and provocative.
Legacy of the Pictures Generation
The Pictures Generation had a profound impact on contemporary art, and its legacy can still be felt today.
The movement challenged traditional ideas of originality and authorship, and it paved the way for a new generation of artists who were interested in exploring the ways in which images shape our understanding of the world.
One of the most significant legacies of the Pictures Generation was its influence on the development of postmodernism.
The movement’s use of appropriation and re-photography challenged traditional ideas of originality and authenticity, and it helped to pave the way for a new era of art that was defined by fragmentation and pastiche.
Today, the work of artists from the Pictures Generation continues to resonate with audiences around the world.
Their exploration of themes like consumerism, mass media, and representation remains relevant, and their use of photography and other media continues to inspire new generations of artists.
The Pictures Generation – Wrap Up
The Pictures Generation was a revolutionary artistic movement that emerged in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Its use of photography and other media to explore themes of consumerism, mass media, and representation challenged traditional ideas of art and paved the way for a new era of postmodernism.
Today, the legacy of the Pictures Generation can still be felt in the work of many contemporary artists, and its influence continues to shape the world of contemporary art.