Art in the Simulacrum
"We are not in search of sources of origins, but of structures of signification: underneath each picture there is always another picture." - Douglas Crimp
What is art? What is NOT art? Who is allowed to set the parameters for art making? Who is not allowed to participate in artistic production?
Douglas Crimp











Postmodernism = a late-20th-century style and concept in the arts, architecture, and criticism that represents a departure from modernism and has at its heart a general distrust of grand theories and ideologies as well as a problematical relationship with any notion of “art.”
Louise Lawler, Eames and Brillo, c. 1984.











Postmodernism is "post" because it is denies the existence of any ultimate principles, and it lacks the optimism of there being a scientific, philosophical, or religious truth which will explain everything for everybody - a characterisitic of the so-called "modern" mind. The paradox of the postmodern position is that, in placing all principles under the scrutiny of its skepticism, it must realize that even its own principles are not beyond questioning.
  • No single truth exists
  • Everything that can be done, has been done
  • Sense that the avant-garde has broken down - there is no longer a shared message or purpose amongst artists
  • Modernism screwed up
Michael Graves, Portland Building, 1982.











Le Courbusier, Le Villa Savoye in Poissy, 1931.
Frank Gehry with Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Binoculars Building, 1985 - 1991. 340 Main St, Venice, CA 90291











Postmodern works often exhibit eclecticism, digression, collage, pastiche, and irony. Postmodern theorists see postmodern art as a reversal of well-established modernist systems, such as the roles of artist versus audience, seriousness versus play, or high culture versus kitsch.


Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #6, 1977.











Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Stil #15, 1978.
Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #32, 1979.











Leave It to Beaver, 1957 - 1963
The Donna Reed Show, 1958 - 1966
Gidget, 1959
Psycho, 1960











pastiche = an artistic technique whereby a generally light-hearted tongue-in-cheek imitation of another's style is employed; although jocular it is usually respectful (as opposed to parody, which is not)


Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #48, 1979.











Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #21, 1978.
Mary Tyler Moore Show, 1970











Male gaze = a fundamental concept to Feminist theory which relates to the way men look at women, how women look at themselves and other women, and the sociological effects of this method of looking.
Some feminists posit that since it is almost always the female who is being gazed upon by the male, the man exhibits power over the woman.
But who is the assumed viewer in a Sherman image?
Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #34, 1979.










Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #54, 1980.











"What these fledgling artists did have fully to themselves was the sea of images into which they were born—the media culture of movies and television, popular music, and magazines that to them constituted a sort of fifth element or a prevailing kind of weather.

Their relationship to such material was productively schizophrenic: while they were first and foremost consumers, they also learned to adopt a cool, critical attitude toward the very same mechanisms of seduction and desire that played upon them from the highly influential writings of French philosophers and cultural critics such as Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, and Julia Kristeva that were just beginning to be made available in translation. Among these thinkers' central ideas was that identity was not organic and innate, but manufactured and learned through highly refined social constructions of gender, race, sexuality, and citizenship. These constructions were embedded within society's institutions and achieved their effects through the myriad expressions of the mass media." - Douglas Eklund

Troy Brauntuch, Untitled, 1976.











Sarah Charlesworth, Modern History, September 1977 - 1979.











Sarah Charlesworth, Modern History, 1977 - 1979.











Allan Mc Collum, Collection of Forty Plaster Surrogates, 1982.











Robert Longo, Men in the Cities, 1981.











Men in the Cities

Robert Longo, Untitled (Cindy and Eric), from the Men in the Cities series. 1981.











Robert Longo, Cindy Sherman (study for Men in Cities series).
American Psycho, 2000.











Roland "Barthes infamously questioned the very possibility of originality and authenticity in his 1967 manifesto, 'The Death of the Author,' in which he stated that any text (or image), rather than emitting a fixed meaning from a singular voice, was but a tissue of quotations that were themselves references to yet other texts, and so on." "The famous last line of Barthes' essay, that 'the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the author,' was a call to arms for the loosely knit group of artists working in photography, film, video, and performance that would become known as the 'Pictures Generation.'" - Douglas Eklund
Louise Lawler, Pollock and Tureen, Arranged by Mr. and Mrs. Burton Tremaine, Connecticut, 1984.