Monday, July 28, 2008

John Baldessari - "Wrong" (1967)

This weekend, the Mrs. and I did one of our favorite Sunday activities - lunch at the Farmers Market followed by an afternoon at LACMA. We again stopped in at the Philip-Lorca DiCorcia exhibition, then onto the modernists and finally the contemporary building.

This week's eye-catcher for me was John Baldessari's "Wrong" (1967), in which a black and white photograph of Baldessari standing in front of a palm tree is captioned simply with the word "Wrong." This piece is part of a series of work by Baldessari in which he painted text on canvas, in an attack on the art "establishment" of the time. Here is a blog with pics of a few of the pieces in this series, including one of my favorites, "Everything is purged from this painting except for art..." (1967-1968).

For "Wrong," Baldessari had been referencing a chapter on composition in a book on photography technique. Clearly the composition of the photograph is a little off and perhaps not-so-compelling. But the irony of the word "wrong" slapped on there in black, like an edict or a final judgment, is just delightful. The wonderful thing that Baldessari and other artists of his time such as Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg, and Ruscha did was to turn convention on it's ear and just ask the question "says who?" Just like Picasso, Rothko, Matisse, Magritte, Pollock and so many others did a few decades earlier. That's the wonderful thing about contemporary art and photography - there is no "wrong" execution of the idea - there is just the idea. Baldessari, considered to be one of the most important influences on contemporary, conceptual-based photography, was quoted as saying "You don't want anyone to say 'You can't do that!' But you do get a lot of that in New York. One of the healthiest things about California is - 'Why not?'

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Designs by CK said...

Hi ya Paul ~ Hope you are having a good week. :)

PS: Thanks 4 stopping by and the compliment on my new piece!


Sandra Evertson said...

Great post!

Loving Her Beautiful said...

Thanks for the visit! Glad you liked the post. I love that photo of the week!