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John Baldessari

Two Highrises (with Disruptions)/Two Witnesses (Red and Green)

1990

John Baldessari’s Two Highrises (with Disruptions)/Two Witnesses (Red and Green) explores the way viewers construct meaning when confronted with disparate images that interact together. Using film-still fragments, the artist organizes them to suggest a narrative. The work was made eleven years prior to the September 11th terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York City, an event that now adds layers of association to its meaning.

John Baldessari (b. 1931, National City, California; lives and works in Santa Monica, California)
Two Highrises (With Disruptions)/Two Witnesses (Red and Green), 1990
Color photographs and vinyl paint
96 x 68 in.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Gift of the artist

For most of us, photography stands for the truth. But a good artist can make a harder truth by manipulating forms or pushing paint around. It fascinates me how I can manipulate the truth so easily by the way I juxtapose opposites or crop the image or take it out of context. When two forces contend in a photograph, I may favor one side or the other—the rider or the horse, for example, the upright mummy in its coffin or the woman standing in awe next to it. Cropping can make the outcome of a struggle ambiguous. —John Baldessari