SHAPING SORRENTI: BALDESSARI’S COLLAGE COLLABORATION
By Alice Cary
Playful and colorful in their appearance, the works of John Baldessari could be described as modern surrealism. The bold shapes he collages with existing imagery look almost as if they were there in real life; a circle rolling down the street, a square lingering in the sky. Like Pop Art, his artworks are simple and humorous–– they make art fun. He established his lively photomontage technique in the 70s after he promised “to not make any more boring art” a mantra he has stood-by ever since.
Baldessari first met fashion photographer, Mario Sorrenti, while working on W Magazine’s art issue in 2007. Baldessari was familiar with using found imagery, but now he was able to manipulate fashion images and for the issue, the pair created pieces that were both fashion and art–– Baldessari’s shapes merge with the models in Sorrenti’s photographs, replacing an arm or a face with a jagged blue form or soft red oval. Their 2007 collaboration entitled, ‘Noses, Elbows and Knees’ is now showing at the Half Gallery through January 20. The series shows that when combined, their work communicates; Baldessari’s shapes compliment the angles of the arms and faces of models in Sorrenti’s photographs.
Their work is different in appearance, but their approaches share similarities that at first, could go unnoticed. Both use the idea of ‘removal’ in one way or another–– Sorrenti strips the body of clothes, Baldessari covers familiar features such as faces and hands. It is perhaps the adaptive quality of Baldessari’s style that makes it appear natural in any imagery he uses–– for Visionaire 64 ART, he collaged his signature shapes onto monochrome selfies taken by contributing artists, models and actors. Although Sorrenti is known mainly for his more serious fashion photography, his series of conceptual sculptures that he contributed to Visionaire 25 VISIONARY bears likeness to the playfulness of Baldessari’s work and shows his appreciation for the different ways the body can be represented, whether abstract or literal. This series was different from his usual aesthetic––he made his fame after photographing spreads of nude models for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar in the 90s; most notably the 1993 ‘Obsession’ campaign for Calvin Klein in which he photographed his then girlfriend, Kate Moss curled-up half naked on a bed. His photographs often feature the naked body–– for Visionaire 60 RELIGION he contributed a nude, black and white image of Arizona Muse holding her son and for Visionaire 20 COMME DES GARCONS he photographed Shanon Plumb in a similar style.
Half Gallery, 48 E 78th Street, NY 10075
Open Tuesday-Saturday 12pm-5pm, Closed Sundays and Mondays