“Look at the subject as if you have never seen it before. Examine it from every side. Draw its outline with your eyes or in the air with your hands, and saturate yourself with it.” (John Baldessari)
This image is particularly powerful because Baldessari is playing with one of his favorite concepts of irony. These women are obviously beautiful and yet he is asking you to imagine them ugly. He is also using his style if putting text on the photographs. I like the general arrangement and layout of the images balanced with the box of negative space and text. The grid formation works well in contrast with the diagonal lines through each picture. The images work well in a series each capturing the same tone and atmosphere with the warm orange / pink shading.
Baldessari tends to create art that cannot be described in any other way than ‘absurd.’ He enjoys that. I believe this is a perfect example of that particular message he is trying to portray. The last line in the text on the photograph says it all, “I’m not sure, but I think that this has something to do with art.”
Baldessari’s work is so simple yet effective. The subject is almost not even worth noticing, however when the images and text are displayed in such a way it attracts the viewer to stop, read and think.
Here is one of Baldessari’s work where he “erased the identity of the people.” Balderassi had this theory where art history put too much focus on the mouth and the eyes, therefore he likes to remove them from his artworks, he actually likes to remove faces and facial expressions as a whole in order to create anxiety.
I find it interesting how such extreme contrasts within an image can confuse and distort the viewer. At first I didn’t realise that there was a man standing infront of the fountain. Once I interprested the image I found the absence of the facial features created a real intensity, l get the impression I am being stared at.
John Baldessari’s Two Highrises (with Disruptions) / Two Witnesses (Red and Green) explores the way viewers construct meaning when confronted with disparate images that interact together. Using film-still fragments, the artist organizes them to suggest a narrative. The work was made eleven years prior to the September 11th terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York City, an event that now adds layers of association to its meaning.
Typology - is the study of types:
In psychology, a model of personality types.
Layout - John Baldessari considers the layout of images just as important as the photography itself. He uses grid systems to show development, layers to build up a composition, diagonals to demonstrate narritative and the rotation of images to signify meaning.
Absence - John Baldessari adopted coloured dots painted in acrylic, as a means of erasing the identity of people and flattening images. “What I leave out is more important. I want that absence, which creates a kind of anxiety”
“For most of us, photography stands for the truth. But a good artist can make a harder truth by manipulating forms or pushing paint around. It fascinates me how I can manipulate the truth so easily by the way I juxtapose opposites or crop the image or take it out of context. When two forces contend in a photograph, I may favor one side or the other—the rider or the horse, for example, the upright mummy in its coffin or the woman standing in awe next to it. Cropping can make the outcome of a struggle ambiguous.” —John Baldessari
Narritive - John Baldessari uses layout to create narritive and tell a story within the collection of photographs. The considered balance creates meaning which is interpreted by the viewer.