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18 NOVEMBER 2012

The Fallen Easel: an evocative and visually stylish provisionality

"John Baldessari's 1987 work titled The Fallen Easel is made up of nine framed panels containing fragmentary images that seem to add up as a complex non sequitur. The lone diagonal panel shows a grayscale screen print of an easel laying on the ground, while other panels show faces and hands that are sometimes obscured by ovals of bright flat colors. Clearly, we see a rebus of sorts, but its substitution of picture-fragments for a syllogistic circuit remains just outside of the grasp of routine readability. Mentally reassembling them does not help, and the narrative context that would enable the work to be analyzed in the manner of a dream is missing. We can only conclude that the relationship between the work's diverse elements is one of an evocative and visually stylish provisionality, but we remain haunted by it, for it keeps us coming back in search of the key that will unlock its beguiling mystery of allegorical displacements and substitutions. Yes, this is an update of a kind of surrealism, but there is something else going on here as well, something pertaining to the typical psychological distance created by mass media imagery striped of its pretense of narrative coherence. All at once, the linked histories of Surrealism, Pop Art, Conceptual Art and Postmodernism flash before our eyes. We are not in Kansas anymore, but is unclear exactly where we are or where anything else is for that matter."

(Mark Van Proyen, November 2009, art ltd. magazine)

Fig.1 John Baldessari (1987). "The Fallen Easel" colour lithograph and screenprint in five parts printed on paper and aluminium plates. Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer. Photo: courtesy of Legion of Honor Museum.

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TAGS

1987 • allegorical displacements • allegorical substitutions • allegory • beguiling mystery • colour lithograph • complex non sequitur • composition • compositional practice • conceptual art • diverse elements • easel • flat colour • fragmentary • fragmentary images • framed panels • John Baldessari • Legion of Honor Museum • linked histories • mass media • narrative coherence • narrative context • non sequitur • not in Kansas anymore • obscured view • oval • picture fragmentspop artpostmodernism • pretense • print retrospective • provisional • provisionality • psychological distance • readability • rebus • routine readability • screenprintsurrealism • syllogism • syllogistic circuit • The Fallen Easel • unlock • visually stylish provisionality

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
17 JANUARY 2011

Computer Art at the Victoria and Albert Museum

"The V&A has been collecting computer-generated art and design since the 1960s. More recently, the Museum acquired two significant collections of computer-generated art and design, and together these form the basis of the UK's emerging national collection of Computer Art.

The Museum's holdings range from early experiments with analogue computers and mechanical devices, to examples of contemporary software-based practices that produce digital prints and computer-generated drawings. The earliest work in the collection dates from 1952 and is a long exposure photograph of electronic beams on an analogue computer, by artist Ben Laposky.

More recently, the V&A has acquired a large digital inkjet print from 2008, which is nearly two metres long and was created using pixel mapping software designed by American artist Mark Wilson.

The collection consists predominately of two-dimensional works on paper, such as plotter drawings, screenprints, inkjet prints, laser prints and photographs, as well as artists' books, from around the world. Early practitioners of computer art were working in Britain, France, Germany, and Spain, as well as the United States, Japan and South America."

(Victoria and Albert Museum)

Fig.1 Herbert W. Franke 'Oscillogramm' (1956)

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
08 FEBRUARY 2010

Digital Pioneers: the first decades of the computer's history in art and design

"This display provides an overview of the first decades of the computer's history in art and design. It includes some of the earliest computer-generated works in the V&A's collections, many of which have never been exhibited in the UK before. From the 1960s until the early 1980s, digital pioneers worked directly with computer hardware and software to produce graphic images unlike anything that had gone before. Some artists went on to use increasingly sophisticated software packages, while others continued to work directly with the hardware itself.

The display includes plotter drawings, screenprints, digital inkjet prints, photographs and animations, as well as important documentary material from the time. It features pioneers working in science and industry during the 1950s and 60s, such as Frieder Nake, Georg Nees and Herbert W. Franke. Artists who worked with the computer in the 1970s and 80s include Paul Brown, Harold Cohen, Manfred Mohr and Vera Molnar. The show also encompasses more recent works by James Faure Walker, Jean Pierre-Hébert, Roman Verostko and Mark Wilson

Digital Pioneers offers a historical context for contemporary digital practice, and is scheduled to coincide with the V&A exhibition Decode: Digital Design Sensations."

(The Victoria and Albert Museum, UK)

Fig.1 Herbert W. Franke, Squares (Quadrate), screenprint, 1969/70. Given by the Computer Arts Society, supported by System Simulation Ltd, London. Museum no. E.113-2008

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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