John Baldessari - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Tuesday, October 13, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Sprüth Magers Lee, London
    Paul Frank McCabe

  • Catalogue Essay

    'I think it's true that if we look side by side at a painting and a photograph, we tend to right away see the painting as somebody's version of the real world, and with a photograph we tend to suspend disbelief and think it refers in a tangible way to the real world.' (John Baldessari in interview with Christian Boltanski, “What is Erased”, John Baldessari From Life, Nîmes, 2005, pp. 72-75).

    John Baldessari’s art actively resists all categorisation because, as he frequently protests, the preconceptions surrounding certain mediums or techniques are falsities that need to be re-evaluated. Using his own artistic production as a means to underscore these issues, Baldessari’s oeuvre now consists of paintings, photography, videos, installations and sculptures not to mention the huge array of amalgamations of these that also incorporate a breadth of images both made and found.

    Constantly striving to find new ways of merging photography and painting, Two Dogs and Two Aliens (2002) is a striking example of Baldessari’s artistic preoccupations. Painting in bright colours on top of a photograph of a seascape with two dogs, Baldessari unites the two mediums. However, the flat voids of colour seem abruptly jarring as they only appear in the top third of the vertical work that then extends and divides into three further sections. Creating parallels through the framing method used in this work, with the pieces from his Intersection Series, Baldessari similarly juxtaposes two disparate concepts that are outlined in the title: the seascape and aliens. Perhaps influenced by the release of the popular film Signs that same year, or the public’s consistent fascination with intergalactic beings in movies in general, Baldessari creates a shadowlike silhouette, sections of which are scattered in the top band of the composition. The recognisably enlarged heads hark back to the cinematic representations of these extra terrestrial beings whose appearances have been the subject of much variation.

    Considering Baldessari’s interest in ridiculing the assumption that photography is a more honest medium than painting, it is highly pertinent that the much-contested theme of aliens is incorporated into this work. For generations alien hoaxes have filtered through the media – the seemingly reliable photographic proof put forward by those who claim to have seen UFOs or aliens, often proved to be manipulated or constructed. '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.' (John Baldessari quoted in: Coosje van Bruggen, John Baldessari, New York 1990, p. 56).

Property from the Estate of Dr. Fredric S. Brandt, Miami

Ο ◆13

Two Dogs and Two Aliens

digital photo with acrylic on Sintraplate
214.9 x 182.9 cm (84 5/8 x 72 in.)

£200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for £266,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
[email protected]
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London 14 October 2015 7pm