On the surface at least, the photography of Mario Sorrenti and the art of John Baldessari, share little other than the idea of an impure beauty. Baldessari, who in 1970 famously cremated his previously painted oeuvre promising a year later "not to make any more boring art." To that end, he drew on the culture around him, creating a new type of surrealism that blended glamour and gloss with language and wit. With his signature color redactions, the iconography of old Hollywood was transformed into an assemblage of parts - an inventor of noses, ears and eyes harvested from his creative treatment. It was the graphic equivalent of Joan Rivers famously wishing for a twin, "so she could know what she looked like without plastic surgery." Fashion photography had yet to play a part, but Sorrenti's own images, from the early nineties onward, had already suggested a version of beauty that challenged conventions and proposed a body that could at once be awkward and vulnerable even as it was clad in the armor du jour. Both artist and photographer sought to excavate the familiar - the one by stripping it of clothes, the other of features. So when in 2007, under the guise of the W magazine art issue, the opportunity for collaboration presented itself, connecting the two made both conceptual as well as artistic sense. Here, a long courtship of art and fashion could at last become a marriage, a true hybrid of crafted imagery and deconstructed purpose.
- Neville Wakefield
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