John Baldessari - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Tuesday, October 9, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist
    Sonnabend Gallery, New York
    Private Collection
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Literature

    R. Fuchs, et. al., John Baldessari: A Different Kind of Order (Arbeiten 1962–1984), exh. cat., Vienna: Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, 2005, p. 223

  • Catalogue Essay

    “It’s all about framing.” JOHN BALDESSARI

    “My work comes from trying to see the world differently because I am tired of seeing the world the way it is presented.” JOHN BALDESSARI

    The work Strobe Series/Futurist: Dog on a Leash (for Balla) by John Baldessari consists of a group of eight humorous representations of dynamic movement. It references Giacomo Balla’s Dog on a Leash from 1912, in which Balla adopted the Futurist style that was interested in investigating the depiction of light, movement and speed.

    The art historic reference is not only important for the present lot, it is key to the understanding of Baldessari’s position as a ‘bricoleur’ who – in the tradition of Dada and Surrealism – brings together different media and motifs. By using photography in Dog on a Leash, he is also referencing the 19th-century invention of time-lapse photography famously used by Eadweard Muybridge. Similar to the endeavours of Muybridge, Dog on a Leash was photographed while a strobe light was being flashed at a
    poodle on a leash. By tirelessly mining the archives of art history and the mass media, Baldessari has succeeded in dramatizing the ordinary and allowing multiple meanings to proliferate beneath the apparent simplicity of his words and images.

    As a master of the montage and choreography of the visual, Baldessari’s shift to the historical in Dog on a Leash indicates the artist’s commitment to the transformations of the visual image. At the time Dog on a Leash was created in 1975, photography was not an appropriate medium for art. As Baldessari said: “My mission for my own art was to break the certain ‘no-no’s’ and ‘taboos’ for galleries. You never saw photographs in art galleries. So, I wanted to use photography as a tool that an artist can use.” In order to prove the banning of painterly conventions Baldessari incinerated all the paintings he had made between graduation from art school in 1953 and the start of the word paintings in 1966. The ashes were baked into cookies and placed into an urn with a bronze commemorative plaque dating the destroyed paintings’ birth and death dates, as well as the recipe for baking the cookies.

    Dog on a Leash is a surprising and inventive exploration of photography’s history and possibilities in a delightful and poignant way. The individual works of the strobe series are unique. A separate Dog on a Leash work, comprising different strobe images of the same poodle, belongs to the Sonnabend Collection in New York. The sequence of the pictures may be arranged in any order, but must be hung horizontally.


Strobe Series/Futurist: Dog on Leash (for Balla)

eight black and white photographs
each: 27.9 x 27.9 cm (10 7/8 x 10 7/8 in)
This work is unique.

£200,000 - 300,000 

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

10 October 2012