A society, as it becomes less and less able, in the course of its development, to justify the inevitability of its particular forms, breaks up the accepted notions upon which artists and writers must depend in large part for communication to their audience. It becomes difficult to assume anything. All the verities involved by religion, authority, tradition, style, are thrown into question, and the writer or artist is no longer able to estimate the response of his audience to the symbols and references with which he works… [C]reative activity dwindles to virtuosity in the small details of form.
Rosenberg suggested that the vogue for text supporting the works themselves—or in the case of the most uncompromising Conceptual artists, text as the works themselves—was not a radical break with the past, but an intensification 232 / The Centaur and the Hummingbird of certain preexisting qualities. The conceptual turn was simply a more overt manifestation of a state of affairs that stretched back to the turn of the century, when the pictorial role of art was displaced by the full-scale rethinking of visual representation at the core of the various avant-gardes. Modern art had always been conceptual; in the 1960s, it just became more self-aware about it. (Ed Halter, Mass Effect, "Hummingbird and Centaur")
Marcus, a brilliant essayist but a bit of a 1960s kind of guy, tells a story about the 1980s that excavates the punk insurrection, and traces its subterranean connections back to the insurrectionary avant gardes that periodically burst upon the stage of western history, such as Dada and the Situationists. It’s an historical configuration that Marcus sees as embodying the ‘... demand to live not as an object but as a subject of history — to live as if something actually depended on one’s actions.’
"misspent youths long gone, who made proclamations, lived in yet-to-be-gentrified neighborhoods, took drugs, started... labels, made art" (Hedi El Kholti on Tiny Creatures)
Craig Owens, the late 20th century theater and art critic, has an interesting quote about his time at October, Rosalind Krauss’s art magazine:
We were concerned with identifying the next chapter of this universal art history so we were involved in arguing for supporting a certain kind of work that would establish our own places in history… What can I say… it was incredibly stupid and blind and shortsighted.