The Vietnam War (1946-1975) ended with a ceasefire agreement in 1973 and American troops withdrew. Before divisions in the country could heal, the Watergate affair caused many people to abandon the notion of government integrity and forced Richard M. Nixon to resign in 1974, the first U.S. president to do so. People were worn out from a decade of artistic and social experimentation that led to national internal dissension and were looking toward quieter and more peaceful times. The raw, screaming protesters and guitars of the 1960s gave way to the canned disco sounds of ABBA, the Bee Gees, and Donna Summer. The seismic shifts in gender roles brought about by the Women’s Liberation Movement ran into trouble with the defeat of the Equal Right Amendment to the United States Constitution. The hippie peace and love movement turned into the violence of the Symbionese Liberation Army. This distinctive split could be seen in photography. The first half of the decade saw a settling of the emotionally charged frontiers of the 1960s, while the second half was a dry, formal, cooling period. Photographic practice, like the conservative “Silent Majority” that ushered in the “Reagan Revolution” of the 1980s, moved from the idealistic, community-based search for open-form investigations that contradicted the fixed notions of photographic representation back to the restrained

stance of the straight gelatin silver print and a pessimistic philosophy of diminished possibilities that questioned the foundations of beauty, intended meaning, and originality.