“I’m looking for the images that are not in the dictionary,” Baldessari has said. “I like to confound people with something completely simple, artful, and on the other hand create a very complex, murky, troublesome piece.” The seven found photographs that form High Flight “are about something transcendent, something like the Freudian superego, something above, godlike, the ideal.” The inverted–T form references a crucifix and projects the image upward.
In the second photograph from the top, a man hangs, unsupported, high above a landscape. In the bottom row are underwater scenes whose figures are not subject to gravity, despite their position at the base of the work. The central image of five synchronized swimmers in a graceful ring is flanked by a reversed and repeated image of a diver sitting among fish. Baldessari concentrates on opposites with these flopped images, which are tinted orange and blue—complementary colors that he associates, he has said, with danger and with the ideal, respectively. While Baldessari’s works often brim over with significance and associations, the artist frustrates any attempts to find definitive, closed meaning.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 77.