Barbara Bloom, ‘Ghost of Vanitas Still Life’ (1994)
BB had a deep affinity for Dutch “Golden Age” painting, a result perhaps of her many years in Amsterdam, but more pertinently of a shared love of the material world. These were painters fascinated by framing: not only in the form of coy devices like the pulled-back drape at the edge of the canvas, but in the literal depiction of framed pictures within their pictures. (We know the artists whose paintings Vermeer owned because he showed them so often in his own paintings.) In David Bailly’s picture, things and pictures are arrayed across the surface of his canvas. Whatever his allegorical intentions, Bailly’s concern with the observable world, in all its idiosyncratic particulars, has trumped conventional narrative. BB’s peekaboo mounting only exacerbates Bailly’s pre-occupation with distracting surfaces and the limpid connections of thoughts and things.