I’m interested in how the end of this century makes parallels with its beginning. I have the feeling that we are in another classical historical period, as the archaic, and the classical and the baroque and the rococo. It began in the 1820s or so. The last historical period ended when the American Revolution and the French Revolution ended, and then there was a brief period of romanticism before you got a new archaic period, which was Corbet and Corot, the so-called Realists. If you look at their paintings compared to, say, what we’re doing now, they look the opposite, they look rococo. Because of the sophistication that was built up in the last period, we couldn’t naively just begin with a rough or raw archaicism; it had to be a very sophisticated archaicism. (laughter) And time and time again, what we call Modern Art—the birth of Modern Art, say with Fauvism, Cubism—because it looks like a birth—we want to call it the archaic form of “Modern Art.” But it’s in fact a baroque form. Impressionism was the real classicism of this period, and we’re winding up now with the rococo—and many, many interesting things are happening. The way the individual relation to art and art-making seems so burdensome, by a plethora of styles and ways of group art-making. The important thing is that it doesn’t look rococo; it wouldn’t be true to this dynamic if it looked like what it is. It’s supposed to look like what it isn’t. So this kind of feeling, of things not being on their feet, forms. The knee is bent, and you don’t know if the shin’s gonna support the weight, is the way things look at the moment. It’s rococo. I wouldn’t believe this myself, if I didn’t make a group of work that followed that progression.
— Richard Tuttle, from an interview with Bob Holman at BOMB Magazine