Bird #1, 1962, the earliest work in the exhibition, presents an image of a bird falling through the picture plane. Again, an early example of Baldessari’s use of cropping for dramatic effect, the bird has been cut in such a cinematic way as to suggest its falling through the air. Bird #1 belongs to a small group of paintings that escaped destruction, when on July 24 1970 Baldessari decided to ceremoniously cremate 125 works, including many oil paintings, made between 1953 and 1966.
Following Baldessari’s seminal statement “I will not make any more boring Art”, he conceived the work The Artist Hitting Various Objects with a Golf Club, 1972-73, composed of 30 photographs of the artist swinging and hitting with a golf club objects excavated from a dump, as a parody of cataloging rather than a thorough straight classification.
Portrait: Various Identities Hidden With Name/Date Cards, 1974 echoes the work Portrait: Artist’s Identity Hidden with Various Hats, 1974, a work in the collection of LACMA, Los Angeles, which illustrates the recurrence of portraits with faces obscured by domestic objects or spots of varying colours. For Baldessari faces dominate our interaction and communication and “If art is a mystery, then the face is a betrayer and should be hidden”.
Art historical references appear throughout John Baldessari’s practice, as evidenced by the work in the exhibition from the Goya Series; Goya Series: THIS, THAT, OR THE OTHER, 1997 in which we see black and white images of everyday objects; a paper clip, bouquet of flowers, and apple, juxtaposed with titles taken from The Disasters of War the 82 prints created between 1810 – 1820 by Francisco Goya.
John Baldessari was born in 1931 in National City, California; he lives and works in Santa Monica, California.
Until April 11th at Marian Goodman Gallery.
(text from Marian Goodman Gallery)