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Art Disaster



John Baldessari

Currently not on display
Acquired in 2001
Inventory number 2573

The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 3400 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.

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In this exercise in associative meaning and word/image conjoinment, Baldessari pins a sequence of photographs to a wall below the ‘headline’ Art Disaster, which has been torn from a newspaper. While some of the photos are clear, others are illegible. The viewer reads the images in relation to the headline, struggling to derive meaning from each arbitrary juxtaposition. An absurd montage, a kind of disjointed narrative, emerges from the incongruities: a photograph of an empty bench precedes a photograph of a palm tree; a self-portrait of Cézanne is juxtaposed with a photograph of a butter pat in a dish. Exploiting the linguistic principles of metaphor and metonymy, Baldessari allows the viewer to interpret along two lines: vertically, from Art Disaster to picture below, or horizontally, from picture to picture. As demonstrated by the wonderfully surrealist narrative sequences that result, Baldessari encourages unconscious associations and subliminal meanings to emerge from the juxtaposition of found objects.