Over the past four decades, Barbara Bloom (American, born 1951) has engaged in a Conceptual practice centered on photography and intricate image-based installations featuring diverse elements such as sculptures, found objects, and film stills. Presented for the first time at MoMA, Framing Wall (1977– 2015) comprises photographic images “framed” by other images, while the twelve-part installation is itself framed by the blue background wall.
Goethe’s Corridor depicts a sequence of doorways from the nineteenth-century German poet’s residence in Weimar, through which the collections decorating each room are visible, the overlaid colorful rectangles surrounding the image further heightening the perspective. In Le Mépris, Bloom’s appropriation of a still from Jean-Luc Godard’s 1963 eponymous film, the actress Brigitte Bardot appears only as a flirtatious play of legs, echoed in the image of mannequin legs in Flaneur Legs. Best of Vermeer includes carefully selected fragments of the Dutch master’s painting Mistress and Maid (1666–67): an elaborate hair bun, a pearl earring, a hand on a writing table, a hand carrying a letter, an eye. Rather than presenting isolated objects or images, Bloom explores the connections between them, leaving the viewer to string together or fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle.