Art in the Simulacrum
"Young artists who came of age in the early 1970s were greeted by an America suffused with disillusionment from dashed hopes for political and social transformation to the continuation of the Vietnam War and the looming Watergate crisis. The utopian promise of the counterculture had devolved into a commercialized pastiche of rebellious stances prepackaged for consumption, and the national mood was one of catatonic shell-shock in response to wildly accelerated historical change, from the sexual revolution to race riots and assassinations." - Douglas Eklund Department of Photographs, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Sherrie Levine, Untitled (President 4), 1979.











Sarah Charlesworth, Modern History, September 1977 - 1979.











Sarah Charlesworth, Modern History, 1977 - 1979.











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











"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.











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.











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











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.











Jean Fouquet, Virgin & Child with Angels, c. 1452 - 1455.

Cindy Sherman, Untitled #216, 1990.


Appropriation = the use of found or borrowed elements in the creation of a new artwork
Walter Benjamin's The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
  • In an age when images can be reproduced endlessly, there is no original
  • The "aura" is the feeling of awe created by unique object from the past
  • Capitalism destroys the aura because of proliferation, mass production and endless reproduction











Carravaggio, Young Sick Bacchus, 1593.
Cindy Sherman, Untitled #224, 1990.











Torso of Neil

Weston poster

Edward Weston, Neil Nude, 1925.
Witkin Gallery, Six Nudes of Neil, 1925 by Edward Weston.  Poster announcing publicationof a limited edition portfolio printed by George A. Tice, 1977.











Untitled After Edward Weston

Sherrie Levine, After Edward Weston, 1981.











Polykleitos, Doryphoros, 450 - 440 BCE.
Edward Weston, Neil Nude, 1925.
Sherrie Levine, After Edward Weston, 1981.