People appreciation

Below: Blue Line from artist John Baldessari’s showing at the Margot Leavin Gallery.  Image is courtesy of photographer Brian Forrest for the L.A. Times.  This sharply focused art show of recent memory can be viewed from today through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Margo Leavin Gallery, 812 N. Robertson Blvd, Los Angeles.  The description of the showing is from well known art critic David Pagal.

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400.Baldessari install 11 John Baldessari’s “Blue Line (Holbein)” is one of the most sharply focused shows of recent memory. It consists of only two pieces, neither very complicated. It’s also one of the most moving shows of the season, revealing a side of the 78-year-old artist often overshadowed by the irreverent wit and gee-whizzing of the reconfigured photographs he has been exhibiting since 1969, when he cremated all of his paintings in his possession and started making the hilariously deadpan pictures that would become the trademark of his art and an essential feature of California Conceptualism. Humor and happenstance counterbalance fate’s weighty presence because Baldessari’s light-handed installation makes a place for quirky coincidences, inviting, over time, serendipitous connections that lead to imaginative leaps. With no-nonsense efficiency and gracious generosity, visitors are given the freedom to embark on freewheeling reflections about art’s place in life and the point of it all.

From the foyer, the sky-lighted main gallery appears to be divided, right down the middle, by a thin blue line. That line is actually the top edge of a nearly 18-foot-long panel that leans against the back wall. On each of the panel’s two sides, Baldessari has mounted a blown-up black-and-white photograph of Hans Holbein the Younger’s magnificently realistic painting, “The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb.”

The harrowing intimacy of Holbein’s original, painted from a corpse fished from the Rhine in 1521, is kept at arm’s length by Baldessari. His blurry reproduction evokes pre-digital copies, old-fashioned slide lectures and outdated textbooks.

The comfort of that distance, however, is undermined by the image’s odd placement: Tipped at a steep angle, the nearly nude figure seems to be slipping out of the picture, sliding down the slippery slope that begins in ordinary forgetfulness and ends in oblivion. Made in 1988 for an exhibition in Brussels, Belgium, Baldessari’s piece has  been exhibited only there. It’s not part of his traveling retrospective, currently in London and on its way to LACMA in June.

400.Baldessari Ocean


10 thoughts on “People appreciation

  1. Mary Alice Tallmadge

    We’ve got an interesting gubernatorial campaign going on in California– what do you think about Meg’s statements, Kathleen?

  2. Janessa Breckinridge

    Ha! Guess we all have heard of Meg by now. Around 300 people turned out a week ago for the official grand opening of Meg’s Republican Orange County headquarters and to hear Meg share her vision for the discombobulated state of California.

  3. Kathleen Rowland

    Meg revealed how little she knows about government funding when she said she was going to cut welfare. Apparently she does not know the federal government funds the largest percentage for aid to dependent children. So, Meg wants to cut something that California gets anyway. Meg Whitman doesn’t understand the funding system.

  4. Rachel Goldberg

    Our country has many children under the poverty level. If they don’t have food, shelter, and clothing, we might as well shoot them. Truely. My point is that funding is a matter of life and death.

  5. Kathleen Rowland

    Agree, Rachel, and I hope Meg isn’t put in charge. The voting public would rather watch reality TV and get their nails done. It’s work to understand what goes on within government.

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