Rhizome 6/7 | The Pictures Generation: Barbara Bloom, Troy Brauntuch, Rhys Chatham, Robert Longo, Matt Mullican

The second to last node of the Capitain Petzel Rhizome series brings together a selection of works by artists affiliated with the legendary Pictures Generation. Influenced by Conceptual and Pop Art of the 1970s, the Pictures Generation artists worked with appropriation and montage to reveal the constructed nature of images. By experimenting with a variety of media, including photography, film, video and performance, their practices exposed recurring tropes and stereotypes in popular visual culture and demonstrated that the meaning of a work is dependent on its historical and social circumstances. The Pictures Generation’s frequent reworking of known imagery would contest notions of individuality and authorship, making the movement an influential part of postmodernism.


The defining moment of the movement came in 1977 with the exhibition Pictures at Artist Space in New York, curated by Douglas Crimp. In the accompanying essay, Crimp described the participants of the exhibition as “a group of younger artists [that] sees representation as an inescapable part of our ability to grasp the world around us”. The 1977 show included works by Troy Brauntuch, Jack Goldstein, Sherrie Levine, Robert Longo and Philip Smith. In this Rhizome, Brauntuch and Longo are present, as well as Barbara Bloom, Matt Mullican and Rhys Chatham who also became affiliated with the visionary movement. In 2009, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) held The Pictures Generation, 1974–1984, a seminal exhibition which focused exclusively on this group of artists, affirming the long-standing relevance of their visions in the art world.