As the 1970s came to a close Minimal and Conceptual Art had run their course in the art institution. Minimal Art had eschewed the image, the end game of formalist modernism, and deflected visual art (ie., painting) from its representational agenda to a new agenda in which the means of representation became the object of representation.
Conceptual Art had produced socially and politically-orientated works often combining snap-shot like pictures with text to impart messages and to circumvent the modernist art establishment. For conceptual artists, the typically black-and-white and often amateurish photograph was a document, which often combined with text and exhibited in open-ended series.The deskilled, amaterurish photographs of Conceptual Art (eg., Ed Ruscha's book Twentysix Gasoline Stations) were seen to open up the possibility of art offering sufficient resistance to the equalization of images produced by the culture industry. Conceptual artists rejected and deconstructed the traditional aestheticism of art photography, and conceptual art demonstrated that there need not even be a palpable visual object for something to be a work of visual art. Hence the end of art talk.
What emerged from this pictorial turn was an understanding of a photograph as a picture that was both based on depiction or representation and was an autonomous image. It was a return to, and enfranchisment of, what lay outside the pale of modernist history.Today there is no longer any pale of history. The idea of pure medium has been deconstructed with the hybrid art practices of Jeff Wall and Gerhard Richter that merged the mediums of painting and photography. Everything is now permitted. Artists are free to make art in whatever way they wished, for any purposes they wished, or for no purposes at all.