For more than four decades, Barbara Bloom’s multi-media practice has interrogated our relationship with everyday objects, probing the
mechanisms underpinning museology and design, and exploring the notion of taste. Loosely associated with the so-called ‘Pictures
Generation’ artists who came to prominence during the 1970s, her work seeks to challenge the aesthetic codes that underpin visual culture. Executed in 1987, Belief in Style is a poster created by Bloom for a project which she undertook in collaboration with the Gemeentemuseum in the Hague: an institution famed for its collection of furniture. As part of the exhibition, Bloom paired together incongruous pieces, marrying Gerrit Rietveld’s 1918 Red Blue Chair with a photograph of a Shaker interior, mutated to incorporate elements of Piet Mondrian’s paintings studio and shielded by a red roller-blind. Bloom’s poster captures the same disregard for traditional notions of visual coherence: the innocuous sans-serif font of her motto is paired with a grouping of Modernist chairs beneath, and a church ruin filled with rows of folding chairs above. As Susan Tallman has written, ‘The words – all caps, linear, professional – tied together the sacred (high Modernism and Gothic arches) and the profane (home accessories and a great place for a wedding)’ (S. Tallman, ‘Artist Project: Barbara Bloom’, in Frieze, Issue 138, April 2011). In doing so, Bloom encourages us to understand ‘style’ as an independent concept, not tied to vagaries of fashion or pre-existing aesthetic assumptions.