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Two comments bookend my thinking about "The Pictures Generation, 1974–1984." The first I overheard a few seconds after entering the show: "I have no appreciation for this," a woman in her seventies was saying to her friend as they stood in front of a triptych of ultra-minimal Jack Goldstein photographs. The second was an anecdote Robert Longo recounted on the audio tour, of a 15-year-old asking him recently about his well-known Men in the Cities drawings: "Did you get the idea from the iPod ad?"
The idea of different generations having distinct relationships to art and culture is central to this exhibition. These, after all, were the first American artists to be raised on a steady diet of TV and advertising, and they were among the first to understand—really understand—that art is of its moment rather than timeless and universal. (Hell, if you grow up under the novel threat of nuclear annihilation, what's really permanent?)