Since the beginning of his career in the 1960s, John Baldessari has used his practice to draw viewers away from easy meanings, asking instead that they let the work trigger associations, from which they may create a narrative. A turning point in his highly conceptual approach was the seminal 1976 photographic collage Nine Feet (of Victim and Crowd) Arranged by Position in Scene. Seven circular photographs, almost like gunshots, are fixed to a grey board and constitute fragments of an event. The circles contain human feet—nine of them—and are positioned to suggest a crime scene, the victim on the left, onlookers to the right. If the grouping was life-sized, left to right might measure nine feet. This mysterious and fascinating work, along with other important photographic collages by Baldessari, is on view at the McNay. —E.C.
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