This introductory immersion in the practice of art history offers an opportunity to gain expertise in visual analysis and historical interpretation through a guided investigation of art and critical theory in the United States during the 1980s. The central debates of this tumultuous decade--still very much with us today--brought the contested paradigm of postmodernism to a fever pitch. Two key exhibitions provide bookends: in Pictures (1977), techniques of appropriation diagnosed a new kind of slippage between reality and representation; in 1993's Whitney Biennial, the period's sustained engagement with gender, sexuality, race, and the relationship between art and politics achieved decisive (and controversial) visibility. Between these poles, artists turned to the street, navigated the "ends" of painting, and invented new forms to confront an increasingly image-soaked media-public sphere. The course attends to the strategies of photoconceptualism, painting, sculpture, video, and site-specificity by which artists intervened in a polarizing historical moment that saw the expansion of neoliberal economics and political conservatism, a sharpened divide between rich and poor, the AIDS crisis, and the geopolitical realignments of the late-Cold War.