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.
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 His blurry reproduction evokes pre-digital copies, old-fashioned slide lectures and outdated textbooks.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.