press release

THE LAST PICTURE SHOW. Artists using photography, 1960-1982, organized by Walker Art Centre, traces the development of conceptual trends in photography during two key decades in contemporary aesthetics. MARCO, Vigo Museum of Contemporary Art –its only venue in Spain– presents this exhibition as a unique opportunity to look at the works of artists who, both because of their quality and significance, have become points of reference in the international history of contemporary art. The Last Picture Show features major loans from an international array of private collectors, galleries and museums as well as numerous objects from the Walker Art Center's permanent collection.

Photography has become an increasingly pervasive medium of choice of contemporary artists who do not consider themselves photographers. Successfully bridging the chasm from mechanical reproduction to fine-art object in the mid-1950s, photography found a legitimate home in museums and galleries just as its makers joined the ranks of revered artists. On the heels of this acceptance, however, was an entirely new challenge to the medium and its newly acquired place of prestige among artists who identified themselves primarily as painters and sculptors.

This show explores the development of conceptual trends in postwar photographic practice from its first glimmerings in the 1960s in the work of artists such as Bernd and Hilla Becher, Ed Ruscha, and Bruce Nauman, to its rise to art world prominence in the work of the photo-based artists of the late 1970s and early 1980s, including Sherrie Levine, Richard Prince, and Cindy Sherman. Intended as a major genealogy of the rise of a still-powerful and evolving photographic practice by artists, the exhibition features over 100 works by more than 50 artists who examine a range of issues that expand the parameters of established photographic modernism as well as hearken back to the origins of photographic practice in the 19th century.

From architectural and environmental interventions to notions of the archive and the "image world" of consumer culture to the treatment of the body in space and the representation of the absurd, the work in The Last Picture Show is intended to trace the rise to prominence of a new set of photographic practices by artists who were not necessarily photographers. Painter Sigmar Polke began in the mid-1960s what would become a lifelong obsession with the camera leading to photographic experiments with both sculptural forms and the alchemy of the developing process. By 1966 Bruce Nauman turned to the camera as a way of documenting sculptural acts that were performative, photographic, and conceptual.

These artists, and many others in the exhibition, independently used the photographic process toward conceptual ends that were counter to the prevailing modes of photography, painting, and sculpture. In fact, these practices set photography free from its former subordination to the painted or sculptural form. By the end of the 1960s it was becoming clear that experimental and conceptual uses of photography were gaining both momentum and credence within the international art world.

By the beginning of the 1980s, the delectation associated with the connoiseurial appreciation of the tradition of the master photographic print had been joined by a newly minted attitude towards photography that was more interested in the uses of the medium for conceptual ends than in the aesthetic pretensions of its predecessors. It is this legacy that finds its descendants in a new generation of photographers today that The Last Picture Show examines.

The Last Picture Show
Artists Using Photography 1960-1985
Kurator: Douglas Fogle

mit Vito Acconci, Bas Jan Ader, Giovanni Anselmo, Eleanor Antin, John Baldessari, Bernd und Hilla Becher, Joseph Beuys, Mel Bochner, Christian Boltanski, Marcel Broodthaers, Victor Burgin, Sarah Charlesworth, Bruce Conner, Jan Dibbets, VALIE EXPORT, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Fischli / Weiss, Gilbert & George, Dan Graham, Hans Haacke, Douglas Huebler, Yves Klein, Imi Knoebel, Silvia Kolbowski, Jeff Koons, Barbara Kruger, David Lamelas, Louise Lawler, Sherrie Levine, Sol Le Witt, Richard Long, Gordon Matta-Clark, Ana Mendieta, Mario Merz, Nasreen Mohamedi, Bruce Nauman, Hélio Oiticica / Neville D´Almeida, Dennis Oppenheim, Giulio Paolini, Giuseppe Penone, Adrian Piper, Sigmar Polke, Richard Prince, Charles Ray, Martha Rosler, Allen Ruppersberg, Ed Ruscha, Cindy Sherman, Laurie Simmons, Robert Smithson, Ger van Elk, Jeff Wall, Andy Warhol, Robert Watts, William Wegman, James Welling, Hannah Wilke

12.10.03 - 04.01.04 Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
08.02.04 - 09.05.04 UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles
28.05.04 - 19.09.04 MARCO Vigo
26.11.04 - 13.02.05 Fotomuseum Winterthur
11.03.05 - 13.06.05 Miami Art Central