WOW! – Work of the Week – WARHOL, Blackglama





Andy Warhol
Blackglama, from Ads
1985
Screenprint on Lenox Museum Board
40 x 40 in.
Unqiue
Authenticated and stamped by the Andy Warhol Foundation on verso

About the work:

WHAT BECOMES A LEGEND MOST?

One of the most famous advertising campaigns of the 20th century began in 1968: the series of full-page, black-and-white print ads for “Blackglama” furs. The campaign was an instant success thanks to the (at the time) new formula of combining a brilliant tag line, with a glamourous and famous icon to promote a luxury item.

“What becomes a Legend most?” is the memorable slogan for Blackglama furs.

Something that has always intrigued people about the brand name is: why the GLAMA in Blackglama, is not GLAMOUR? The whole campaign started when approximately 400 mink ranchers from the Great Lakes Mink Association (a.k.a. GLMA) were looking to revamp the image of their product. Ad executive, Jane Trahey of Jane Trahery Associates in NYC came up with the idea to incorporate the deep black color of the mink and the name of the association. Thus the name and the memorable slogan were born: “What becomes a Legend most?” (the “L” in legend was always capitalized).

Famed photographer Richard Avadon was brought on by the campaign to photograph the most important female celebrities of the time. In the first year alone, Lauren Bacall, Bette Davis and Judy Garland modeled for the brand. Every model was gifted an $8,000 Blackglama mink coat. Legend has it that Judy Garland left the studio without even bothering to have hers lined.

Here below we see Avadon’s contact sheet of Judy Garland posing in her Blackglama for the ad campaign

This week’s Work of the Week! WOW! is Blackglama, from Ads, featuring Judy Garland by Andy Warhol. Ever the observer of the times in which he lived, the artist, who began his career as a commercial illustrator in the 50’s was fascinated with the commercial world. Warhol glamorized and transformed celebrities and everyday objects like soup cans and Brillo Pads, into works of art. In the mid 1980’s he created one of his most sought after and iconic sets of screenprints: the Ads Series. Andy Warhol’s work explores the themes and the relationship between artistic expression, and the celebrity culture, advertisement, capitalism and consumerism that were prevalent at the time. The cultural force that was the Blackglama ad campaign fit perfectly into his philosophy and was a obvious choice to include into the Ads portfolio.

This particular version of Warhol’s Blackglama is a unique working proof, outside of the regular edition. It is much different from the one that we are most familiar with. In this work, the most notable difference is the background and the colors of Judy Garland herself. In the regular edition, the background is black and the color blue is the most prevalent for the mink, as well as her hair. In this working proof, there are more colors and the detail of Judy Garland’s face, hair and mink are more pronounced. The slogan at the top even has a slightly different hue.

Another noticeable difference is the size of this work. The regular edition Blackglama measures 38 x 38 in. This working proof measures 40 x 40 in. If you look closely at the bottom and left margins, you will see traces of regular edition coloring underneath this unique proof. Warhol did this quite often, working out different color arrangements and schemes until he got it just right.

These working proofs have become quite rare, hard to find and highly sought after. Each proof is different. Each proof is considered a unique work of art. This unique working proof of Blackglama is certified by the Andy Warhol foundation on the verso with its registration number. It is also accompanied with a letter of authenticity by the Andy Warhol Authentication Board.

WOW! – Work of the Week – ALBERS, White Line Squares (Series II) XVI





Josef Albers
White Line Squares (Series II) XVI
1966
Lithograph
20 3/4 x 20 3/4 in.
27/125
Initialed in pencil, dated, numbered and titled

About the work:

“The perception of color is deceiving, we may perceive two different colors to look alike, or two equal colors to look different. This game of colors – the change of identity – is the object of my study.”
Josef Albers

Accomplished as a designer, photographer, typographer, and printmaker, Josef Albers is best known for his work as an abstract painter and color theorist. His approach to composition was very disciplined. He spent 26 years creating and mastering thousands of paintings and prints that make up his series “Homage to the Square.” Through this series, Albers explored chromatic interaction with nested squares. 

His works were always created using the same process: he painted mostly on Masonite, using a palette knife to prime the surface with layers of white gesso, then applying each oil color minimally for maximum effect. He would paint one coat of pure color directly to the canvas from the tube, unmixed, starting from the centre and working his way outwards, just as his father, a house painter, carpenter, plumber and general technician, had taught him – a technique that ‘catches the drips of paint and keeps cuffs clean’ he used to say.

He was known to meticulously list the specific manufacturer’s colors and varnishes he used on the back of each work, as if the colors were catalogued components of an optical experiment. Each painting in the series was composed of either three or four squares of solid planes of color nested within one another, in one of four different arrangements and in square formats. 

Despite their name, the Homages  seem to be less about squares within squares than about the infinite possibilities of the chromatic spectrum. Every last one is an exercise in visual juxtaposition, an exploration of the effect that colors have on the eye and on each other. The size and proportion and the number of the squares vary, but they are always offset towards the bottom of the frame  The arrangement of these squares is carefully calculated so that the color of each square optically alters the sizes, hues, and spatial relationships of the others, and this tricks the eye into a figurative response: they look like luminous corridors receding to a vanishing point.

Our Work Of the Week! WOWWhite Line Squares (series II) XVI is from the “Homage to the Square” series. Its color composition is comprised of three surrounding squares in colors cream, warm ochre light, and brown with a white line square in the middle square of ochre.  The ochre on either side of the thin white line is actually the same hue, however, the placement of the white line creates a shift in color on both sides so that the single color appears as two different colors. 

Albers wrote: “A white line within a color instead of as a contour may present a newly discovered effect: when the line is placed within a so-called “middle” color, even when the color is very evenly applied, it will make the one color look like two different shades or tints  of that color.”

An Interesting Note:  Transferring this idea to lithographs was a complicated process, because the white line was created by the unprinted paper. The square containing the white line could not therefore be printed over an underlying color area. Accordingly, the well known printmaker Kenneth Tyler devised a way to print on plates that accurately abutted one another with no overlap.

Having studied and later taught at the famed Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany prior to fleeing to the US, Albers’ work represents a transition between traditional European art and the new American art. It incorporates European influences from the Constructivists and the Bauhaus. His influence fell heavily on American artists of the late 1950s and the 1960s. Hard-Edge abstract painters drew on Albers’ use of  patterns and intense colors, while Op artists and conceptual artists further explored his interest in  perception. 

WOW! – Work of the Week – GOTTLIEB, White Ground Red Disk





Adolph Gottlieb
White Ground Red Disk
1966
Lithograph
29 1/2 x 21 1/2 in.
Edition of 50
Pencil signed, dated and numbered

About the work:

“To my mind certain so-called abstraction is not abstraction at all…on the contrary it is realism of our time.”
Adolph Gottlieb

Growing up during the Depression and maturing throughout the interwar period and rise of Hitler, the American painter and printmaker Adolph Gottlieb was committed to expressing authentic feeling in the face of the traumas of the world. Gottlieb established himself as a pioneer in the movement of Abstract Expressionism and worked actively against the dominating trends of regionalism and realism of the 30’s. He was close with many important artists of the time, Marc Rothko and Barnett Newman for example and together they sought to make American art more experimental 

Gottlieb’s work can be described as a reaction to the times in which he lived, and he is well known for three distinct periods or series. The first, which emerged during the second World War is the “Pictograph” series (1941-1951) comprised of loose grids with schematic forms. This was followed by the “Imaginary Landscape” period (1951-1957), which consisted of semi-abstract landscapes. And finally, his “Burst” period, which is his most famous and which he spent almost two decades exploring (1957-1974) revolved around variations of simplified representations of two shapes – a disc hovering above an explosion of calligraphic strokes. 

This week’s Work Of the Week! White Ground Red Disk is a prime example of his work from the Burst series. 

In the vertical “Bursts,” the series relies heavily on the juxtaposition of forms characterized by an underlining dualism. Gottlieb has brought together, in a single canvas the two poles of Abstract Expressionist painting—the Color Field and Action Painting (or Gestural Abstraction) schools—in a tense balance. 

Color Field painting emerged in the late 50’s, and is known for the use of simple geometric patterns and references landscape imagery and nature. The style is characterized primarily by fields of flat, solid color, creating areas of unbroken surface and a one-dimensional picture plane. The Color Field movement places less emphasis on  gesture , brushstrokes and action in favor of an overall consistency of form and process. In Color Field painting “color is freed from objective context and becomes the subject in itself.”

Action painting, on the other hand, is a style of painting in which paint is spontaneously dribbled, splashed or smeared onto the canvas, rather than being carefully applied. It emphasizes the physical act of painting itself as an essential aspect of the finished work or concern of its artist. The images do not portray objects or even specific emotions. Instead, they aim to touch the observer deep in the subconscious mind, tapping the collective sense of an archetypal visual language. This was done by the artist painting “unconsciously,” and spontaneously, creating a powerful arena of raw emotion and action, in the moment.

The dichotomy between the two forms in the work, the disk and the expressive strokes, led the way and formed the bridge for the geometric abstractionists and minimalists such as Frank Stella and Josef Albers. 

WOW! – Work of the Week – WESSELMANN, Still Life with Liz





Tom Wesselmann
Still Life with Liz
1993
Screenprint
59 1/2 x 57 in.
Edition of 90
Pencil signed and numbered

Tom Wesselmann never considered himself a Pop artist. He would point out that he made aesthetic use of everyday objects, rather than critique them as consumer objects. He once said: “I dislike labels in general and ‘Pop’ in particular, especially because it overemphasizes the material used. There does seem to be a tendency to use similar materials and images, but the different ways they are used denies any kind of group intention.”

The artist, however, was clearly in dialogue with his Pop predecessors and contemporaries, among them Lichtenstein and Warhol, with whom he shared an interest in the commodification of the female form and still life.

In addition to being widely known for his paintings of “The Great American Nude”, Tom Wesselmann was a master of the still life. The creation of settings in his works, as opposed to the representation of a lone object is primarily what sets him apart from the other pop artists, and the pop movement. He was a modern-day Matisse who made use of Pop imagery.

In this week’s Work Of the Week! (WOW), Still Life with Liz, Tom Wesselman is taking Andy Warhol’s Liz Taylor and placing it in his painting as nothing more than an object in a room,   He is creating a familiar and recognizable setting, in which you can imagine yourself walking into a home, and seeing a console with a vase positioned next to a painting.

By using Warhol’s Liz Taylor, Wesselmann is not only affirming Andy Warhol’s place in art history as a pop artist, but also using Warhol’s iconic pop art image as an everyday object, solidifying Andy Warhol’s artwork as a work of art.  In other words (in a reversed or opposite sort of way), Tom Wesselmann is applying the very same concept to his art work that Andy Warhol did.

Warhol took everyday objects and turned them into art.  We call his style of art “pop art’.  Tom Wesselmann took Warhol’s image of Liz Taylor and turned it into an everyday object by placing this image in his artwork.  The image of Liz in this still life is no different than a 7up bottle or a package of Wonder Bread in other still life works by Wesselmann.

Andy Warhol made Liz Taylor accessible by allowing us to hang her on our wall.  He is credited with democratizing art.  Tom Wesselmann affirms this concept showing us just that.  He has taken a pop art painting and turned it into a painting of pop art.

WOW! – Work of the Week – HINMAN, Triangles





Charles Hinman
Lavender Triangle
2012
Screenprint
38 x 38 in.
Edition of 15
Pencil signed, dated and numbered

Charles Hinman
Orange Triangle
2012
Screenprint
38 x 38 in.
Edition of 15
Pencil signed, dated and numbered

“My concept of my work is dynamic, never static. I think of my paintings as occupying a 6-dimensional space – the three dimensions of space and one each of time, light and color.”  Charles Hinman

Charles Hinman played a significant role in redefining the physical shape of paintings. His desire to break away from the traditional square or rectangular frame of painting lead him to the shaped canvas. In the 60’s several abstract minimalist artists were experimenting with new canvas shapes, but none drove the concept further than Hinman. His canvases were a form of hybrid between painting, sculpture and wall relief.

Until the early 1970s, Hinman examined the possibilities offered by this new medium: strongly protruding canvases, geometric and sensual profiles, color contrasts, color reflections on the adjacent wall, shadows, monochrome canvases.

Since working on primarily flat surfaces was not Charles Hinman’s primary medium, his exploration of print-making started only when he met master-printer Gary Lichtenstein. these two worked on numerous projects together. in 2012, they collaborated on a set of screenprints entitled Triangles, which is this week’s Work Of the Week – WOW.

Prints are 2 dimensional works, however, through his mastery of color, angles and shapes, Hinman is able to give Lavender Triangle and Orange Triangle the strong illusion of a 3rd dimension. On the flat surface of the paper, he applied bright colors, which cause an area to move forward, in contrast with darker colors that recede, which tricks the eye into believing the silkscreen has actual depth. The choice of adjacent colors causes a sensation of motion of the surfaces. The defining particularity of Hinman’s Triangle silkscreens are his focus on the illusion of space and suggested volume. As with his paintings, Hinman is able to apply 6 dimensional features to his prints as well.

WOW! – Work of the Week – WARHOL, Mick Jagger



                                             Mick Jagger FS II. 139  

                                               Mick Jagger FS II. 141



Andy Warhol
Mick Jagger FS II. 139
1975
Screenprint
43 1/2 x 29 in.
Edition of 250
Pencil signed and numbered, also signed by Mick Jagger

Andy Warhol
Mick Jagger FS II. 141
1975
Screenprint
43 1/2 x 29 in.
Edition of 250
Pencil signed and numbered, also signed by Mick Jagger

About the works:

“The thing that he seemed to be able to do was to capture society, whatever part of it he wanted to portray, pretty accurately. That’s one of the things artists do, is show people later on what it was like. If you want to be reminded of a certain period, you can look at what Andy was doing then. He was very much in tune with what was going on. Of course, he was criticized for that, for being sort of trendy. But I think some people’s great forte is being so in touch.”

Mick Jagger at the time of Andy Warhol’s passing

One was the world’s greatest pop artist, the other was the signer and face of one of the most successful bands in history. Andy Warhol and Mick Jagger met at a party in 1964, when the Rolling Stones were on their first US tour. At this time, both idols were rising to fame and establishing their images. The Rolling Stones were viewed as the dirty alternative to the clean-cut Beatles and art collectors may have viewed Andy Warhol in a similar way compared to other artists of the time, such as Wayne Thiebaud, Japer Johns and Roy Lichtenstein. 

The first collaboration between the two artists was for the iconic “Sticky Fingers” album cover in 1971. Today, it is regarded as one of modern music’s more striking pieces of graphic art. The album, which went to number one immediately in both the US and the UK, resulted in a long-lasting business and personal relationship between the two icons who had a great understanding of both art and commerce. 

sticky-fingers-460x460
                                 Sticky Fingers – album cover

Portraits became big business for Andy Warhol around the time of the album release. He was a modern-day portrait painter who could capture all the high society and celebrity personalities of the time, and Jagger, who embodied the sex, drugs and rock and roll world was the perfect subject. At the request of Seabird Editions Company in London, who offered to publish the screen prints, Andy Warhol created a series of 10 portraits of Mick Jagger.

In the summer of 1975, while Mick and his wife, Bianca where staying at Andy’s house in Montauk, Andy and Mick started work on the project. Andy took the photographs of Mick himself. All 10 of the final artworks were head and bare-chested torso shots of Jagger. Andy was interested in capturing the different emotions and personas of Mick; happy, thoughtful, seductive, tough, arrogant, etc. 

Once back in the studio, Andy created the screen prints from the photographs and added hand drawn stylized lines and color patches to enhance the mood of each piece. Both Andy Warhol and Mick Jagger signed the final prints as a savvy marketing move. Jagger’s audience was much larger than Warhol’s collector base, so having Mick’s signature would help increase exposure of his work. For Mick, the portraits would help enhance his image.

Today, the portraits are as iconic as the two men themselves, immortalizing a moment in time. 

WOW – Work of the Week – RAUSCHENBERG, Ape, from Stoned Moon





Robert Rauschenberg
Ape, from Stoned Moon
1970
Lithograph
46 x 38 in.
Edition of 46
Pencil signed, dated and numbered

About the work:

“The bird’s nest bloomed with fire and clouds. Softly largely slowly silently Apollo 11 started to move up. Then it rose being lifted on light. In its own joy wanting the earth to know it was going. Saturated, super-saturated, and solidified air with a sound that became your body. For that while, everything was the same material. Power over power, joy, pain, ecstasy, there was no inside, no out. Then bodily transcending a state of energy. Apollo 11 was airborne, lifting pulling everyone’s spirits with it.”
Rauschenberg’s account of the launch of the Apollo 11 mission

Acclaimed as the first postmodern artist and a forerunner of the Pop Art movement, Robert Rauschenberg, invited by NASA, traveled to Cape Canaveral in July 1969 to document the launch of the historic Apollo 11 mission, the first manned spaceflight to the moon’s surface. While in Cape Cape Canaveral Rauschenberg enjoyed unrestricted access at NASA’s Florida facilities. He roamed the buildings and adjacent landscape, met with astronauts and other personnel, and was granted full access to official NASA photographs and technical documents.

This trip profoundly impacted the artist, who came away from the experience energized and with a renewed sense of optimism after having been deeply disillusioned for several years by the course of the Vietnam War and the growing social unrest in the United States.

After the launch, Rauschenberg began work on the Stoned Moon series (1969–70).

Conceptually named from the idea of the alignment of a moon rock (or lunar stone), and a lithographic stone, the Stoned Moon was a series of 34 lithographs that juxtapose hand-drawn passages with imagery that pairs the lush Florida landscape with the and the region’s tourist highlights against the crisp industrial aesthetic of the space race: scenes of astronauts and complex machinery

The surfeit of indigenous birds populating the Stoned Moon lithographs speaks to the blurring of the natural and the manmade. These familiar symbols rein in the otherworldliness of Cape Canaveral, where gigantic sophisticated machines intrude upon a vast, sparse landscape. Now that humans’ capacity for flight definitively exceeded that of any natural flyer, was nature rendered obsolete?

The Stoned Moon lithographs reflect upon the binaries of think/feel, natural/manmade, bodily/immaterial, earthly/heavenly. Rauschenberg is able to situate popular countercultural tendencies alongside the nationalistic aims of NASA’s project without overtly addressing either.

The thirty-four Stoned Moon lithographs provides a singular account of the space program and humankind’s first lunar landing. Rauschenberg’s impressions contain a mixture of trepidation and wonder that conveys the technological and astronomical sublime. The immensity (quantified in just about any way: by ambition, financial commitment, the literal size of the rocket or distance to the moon) of the mission exceeded the capacity of photography’s limited scale.

Apollo 11 Mission

Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that landed the first humans on the Moon on July 20, 1969: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Armstrong was the first to step onto the lunar surface six hours later on July 21, and he uttered the now-famous words, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Armstrong spent about two and a half hours outside the spacecraft, Aldrin slightly less. The third member of the mission, Michael Collins, piloted the command spacecraft alone in lunar orbit until Armstrong and Aldrin returned to the spaceship for the trip back to Earth. Launched by a Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida on July 16, Apollo 11 was the fifth manned mission of NASA’s Apollo program. Apollo 11 effectively ended the Space Race and fulfilled a national goal proposed in 1961 by the U.S. President John F. Kennedy in a speech before the U.S. Congress: “before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

WOW – Work of the Week – INVADER, Hypnosis





Invader
Hypnosis
2011
Woodcut
9 7/8 x 11 7/8 in.
Artist’s Proof, edition of 50
Pencil signed, numbered and dated

About This Work:

“Little by little, I organized a detailed process by which I explore international densely populated urban areas and “invade” them.”

Invader is the pseudonym of a French urban artist, born in 1969, whose work is modeled on the crude pixellation of 1970s–1980s 8-bit video games. He took his name from the 1978 arcade game Space Invaders, and much of his work is composed of square ceramic tiles inspired by video game characters.

Although he prefers to remain incognito, and guards his identity carefully, his distinctive creations can be seen in many highly-visible locations in more than 75 cities in 33 countries. He documents each intervention in a city as an “Invasion”, and has published books and maps of the location of each of his street mosaics.

Invader likes tiles for their robustness and permanence.  Video games of the era were constructed with 8-bit graphics, and so it lends themselves well to the mosaic treatment, with each tile representing one pixel.

“In my own eyes, they are the perfect icons of our time, a time where digital technologies are the heartbeat of our world. As these creatures are made of pixels they are in some sorts ready-made for tile reproduction. Finally, their names are literally predestined for the project I have pioneered: they are “Space Invaders!”

Invader’s idea is to bring the virtual world into reality.  He sees himself as a hacker of public space, spreading a virus of mosaics;[the streets are his canvas, his invasions are gifts to the city and its people. One can see many things in it, but it refers to the early days of digital and the video game.

His first mosaic was installed in the mid 1990s in his home city. It was a sleeper for several years before the full “invasion” program was conceived in 1996.  This was the first wave of the “invasion”.  By 1998, it had spread to 31 other cities in France.

Today, 77 cities have been invaded, 2,692 Space Invaders placed comprising some 1.5 million ceramic tiles; 19 invasion maps have been published.  He has invaded New York five times, Miami twice, and Hong Kong on three separate occasions.

This week’s Work of the Week (WOW) is called Hypnosis.

In this work, Invader channels the work of the Norwegian painter and printmaker, Edvard Munch.  Munch was greatly influenced by the German Expressionists in the early 20th century.  Many artist in this genre used the woodblock process in print form, to capture the angst of the times.

Hypnosis is a woodblock print done is Munch’s German Expressionist style. Here we see Munch’s typical figure and his familiar wavy lined background. The work is very dark, as is the work of the German Expressionists.  We see the effects of war through the eyes of these artists.

Here is where Invader starts to have fun with this work.  He uses the dark, depressed like image of Munch’s work, and inputs his space invader figures  making this work fun. However, upon further examination, we see the play on the idea that the space invaders are invading these villagers or the village.

This is, and has always been his concept, THE INVASION.  This is a great example of an extreme and obvious invasion.

WOW – Work of the Week – KAWS, Warm Regards





KAWS
Warm Regards
2005
Screenprint
20 x 16 in.
Edition of 200
Pencil signed and numbered

About This Work:

“When I’m making work, I’m always thinking how can I communicate within these avenues [of art] to make those bridges for kids and pull them out of their holes into other worlds?”

– Brian Donnelly aka KAWS

Brian Donnelly aka KAWS is a is a pop artist and designer who started his career as a graffiti artist in New York. moving on to subvertising.  Subvertising is a portmanteau of subvert and advertising. It refers to the practice of making spoofs or parodies of corporate and political advertisements.  Subvertisements may take the form of a new image or an alteration to an existing image or icon, often in a satirical manner.
It cuts through the hype and glitz of our mediated reality and, momentarily, reveals a deeper truth within.

Fascinated with how cartoon shows, such as The Simpsons or Sponge Bob Square Pants, can have such an impact on people’s lives and minds, Kaws’ imagery are subverts of American Icons and cartoon characters.  They are universally understood and go above and beyond language and culture.
The Kimpsons
The Kimpsons
For example, Kaws has a painted a series called The Kimpsons a subvert of the popular cartoon The Simpsons. Kaws explains that he “found it weird how infused a cartoon could become in people’s lives; the impact it could have, compared to regular politics.

This week’s Work Of the Week (WOW), Warm Regards is another example of a subvertisement that speaks to society’s use of emojis, as an every day visual language, in which people communicate and express emotions and feelings.  Emojis have replaced our words.  Can we write a story with emojis?  Can we read a book filled with emojis?  Is that what’s next?

Kaws’ point is further brought out by the specific use of one emoji in particular, the Poop emoji, with a very witty title, Warm Regards.  It is left up to your interpretation.   The simplicity of this image of just the emoji centrally located on the paper, with Kaws’ iconic “XX” for eyes really says it all.

The effectiveness of this simplistic style to make a statement about society is not one that we have not seen before.  Kaws‘ artistic idol is Andy Warhol.  Warhol’s use of a single pop image on a canvas or sheet of paper, to convey a message on society was not only groundbreaking, but also extremely effective in getting its point across.

A few perfect examples of this are the Electric Chair, Mao and Marilyn
One simple image, can say some many things.
Warm Regards 2    Andy Warhol - MM Pink

KAWS – Warm Regards                                           Andy Warhol – Marliyn Monroe – FS II.31 

Kaws not only recognizes this, but employs this technique with admiration, as he carries the torch continuing to create art in a manner that speaks volumes about the world and its societies.

WOW – Work Of the Week – John Baldessari “Large Door”

Hegel s Cellar Portfolio -  Large Door

John Baldessari
Large Door
1986
Photogravure and aquatint on torn Rives BFK aper
20 x 38 in.
Edition of 35

Pencil signed and numbered

About This Work:

“Fingerprints and footprints can be repeated, and that’s why I make prints endlessly”  – John Baldessari

John Baldessari has created a formidable body of editions and artist’s books in his lifetime. His irreverent and playful prints require an intellectual workout as rigorous as any other medium in which he chooses to work.

A self-described “failed writer” who “builds with images the way a writer builds with words”, Baldessari’s work is concerned with the idea of visual information as signifier and a means of communication, combining stock imagery, colors, and text to create intricate and taut visual ambiguities. His aim is to create enough “tension” between found images in order to illicit questions and curiosity.

Using found photographs as source material – primarily stock images from early Hollywood films, newspaper photographs, and postwar advertising –  Baldessari was drawn to the generic nature of such images, their role in creating a shared visual culture, and the power they have to reveal subconscious thoughts and uncover the viewer’s “emotional baggage”.

In 1986, Baldessari created a series of 10 prints, to do just that. This series, entitled Hegel’s Cellar, used stock imagery in montages to examine Hegel’s theory of an “abyss (or cellar) as a psychic space where one preserve[s] images unconsciously” (Wendy Weitman in The Prints of John Baldessari: A Catalogue Raisonne 1971–2007, pp. 23-24).

The idea was brought out while Baldessari was in psychotherapy at the time, and he had started to let emotion (but not his own emotions) into his work. The presence of fear, anxiety, lust, horror, and other states was a new element, but their frequently jarring context was not; he was on the lookout for the unexpected associations generated by random images in close proximity.

This week’s Work Of the Week (WOW) is Large Door, from Hegel’s Cellar.

Faced with the dilemma or option of either being killed or stepping into the abyss, represented by a large black rectangle of equal proportion as the men on both sides carrying pistols, Baldessari is challenging the viewer to fill in the blanks.