It’s hard to imagine the 1990s without Corinne Day’s portrait of a forlorn, 15-year-old Kate Moss striking a pose in skimpy silk underwear, following a fight with her then-boyfriend. Or Larry Clark’s decade-defining film Kids (1995), which blew the lid off a drug-fueled, sex-obsessed band of New York City teenagers. In the ’90s, documenting real life became increasingly en vogue, for better or for worse. Fashion shoots favored grunge over glamorized, staged tableaux, and photographers pointed their lenses to their realities and the fraught issues of the time—including identity politics and the AIDS crisis, among others. In the midst of our current nostalgia for the 20th century’s final decade, and the last generation to experience a world without omnipresent technology, we look to eight photographers who captured the zeitgeist of ’90s youth.
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