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Baldessari, John
U.S. (1931 - 2020)
Eye Lid (with Log)
Montage of appropriated photographs; Gelatin silver print; Chromogenic color print and color paper
38 1/4 x 60 1/4 in. (97.2 x 153.0 cm) image size; 38 x 60 1/16 in. (96.5 x 152.6 cm) board size; 39 x 61 1/16 in. (99.1 x 155.1 cm) frame size; 50 3/16 x 61 1/16 x 2 in. (127.5 x 155.1 x 5.1 cm) installed size
Joseph and Elaine Monsen Photography Collection, gift of Joseph and Elaine Monsen and The Boeing Company
FA 97.15 A
Keywords: Portrait (faces); Tree (log); Film still

John Baldessari credits as one of the sources of his inspiration to become an artist his experience teaching art and crafts in San Diego public schools. One can also see the influence of such artists as Marcel Duchamp and John Cage in his work, particularly in his fascination with games and subverting traditional principles of art. A painter by training, he took photographs simply as a reference for imagery until 1970, when he burned all his paintings and turned his full attention to photography. In the composite pieces from the 1980s, such as this one, he has juxtaposed fragments of movie stills to create a fractured narrative, an acknowledgement of his realization that partial knowledge is all that he can hope for. The artist has said, "Everybody knows a different world, and only part of it. We communicate by chance, as nobody knows the whole, only where overlapping takes place." --Label copy for After Art: Rethinking 150 Years of Photography, December 4, 1994 to March 26, 1995.

This work is assembled from pre-existing images which the artist rephotographed and arranged to make a photographic collage. The title refers to the Biblical passage in the Gospel of Matthew, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye, with never a thought for the plank of your own?" -- Label copy for Inspiring Vision: Looking at Photography, July 31,1997 to October 19,1997.

Since the early 1960s, John Baldessari has consistently explored the way artists and their audiences construct meaning from visual and alphabetic-textual cues. Working here with a collection of picture fragments appropriated from photojournalism, advertising, and fine art, he has created a collage of elements united by superficial visual similarities. In so doing, he engages the critical viewer in a self-conscious process of attempting to construct larger meaning where there is none. Baldessari presents in collage form an archive around visual signs, intended to remain open to new and subjective modes of ordering. -- Label copy for Videowatercolors: Carel Balth Among His Contemporaries, October 15, 2011, to January 22, 2012.
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist

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