Based in Santa Monica, California since the 1960s, John Baldessari (b. 1931) is one of the most influential artists of his generation. Making his name as a pioneer of conceptual art in the 1960s with his text and image paintings, he shocked the art world when he announced in a newspaper that he was cremating all the artworks he had produced between 1953 and 1966. He then turned his attention to photographic works often incorporating found film stills, trawling dumpsters for discarded material from which he created his famous photo-compositions
Over 130 works, some of them little known, review the main concerns of John Baldessari who has recently been awarded a Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale (2009). With humour and irony, his work dissects the ideas behind artistic practice and questions the accepted historical rules for making art. Fascinated by language and its meaning, he has never lost his interest in the relation between the visual and words. The combination of film, photography and painting is also a key element in his art. The exhibition opens with the early paintings that survived the Cremation Project (in 1970 he burnt all his work earlier than 1966, an action with which he wanted to celebrate his death as a painter, and from the ashes, kept in an urn in the form of a book, the Cremation Project emerged, a symbol of his artistic rebirth), followed by his photography-and-text works, including the combined photographs he took in the eighties from the extensive use of archive images from old films, the irregular, painted over works of the nineties and video. The exhibition concludes with his most recent works.
After Barcelona, John Baldessari: Pure Beauty travels to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles) and Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York).
Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) Website