Museum Watch: John Baldessari: Pure Beauty

Posted by David Ozanich — 22 Oct 2010


Everyone’s talkin’ ‘bout the new John Baldessari show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We even posted a preview picture of “Palm Tree/Seascape” from the show a few weeks ago. Baldessari, primarily known as a Conceptualist, is one of California’s - and America’s - preeminent artists. Much of his work uses photography. Here’s a potpourri of comments on the new show, “Pure Beauty” which sounds like it’s not to be missed:

From Reuters:

Critics regularly refer to Salvador Dali and Marcel Duchamp when describing his humorous, usually colorful creations packed with pop culture references. ...

In "Planets (Chairs, Observer, White Paper)," a 1987 montage, Baldessari combines colored and black and white movie stills with a photo of planets in orbit, letting viewers form their own associations.

baldessari_16.EL.jpgPelicans Staring at Woman with Nose Bleeding

From the New York Times:

The show’s first act concentrates on Mr. Baldessari’s gradual leave taking of painting and his embrace of photo-based works. In 1969 he commissioned paintings from commercial artists, each based on a photograph he took of his hand pointing at this or that. ...

Mr. Baldessari’s excursions into Conceptual photography leave few stones unturned and are consistently amusing. He excels at playing photography off reality; a rudimentary example is a 1973 series of found photographs of natural disasters displayed in frames that are askew, even though the images are not.

From France 24:

The 79-year-old helped build the conceptual art movement, transforming ordinary objects into cultural icons and putting words, photographs and video film on the same level -- if not higher -- as painting and sculpture

baldessari_08.L.jpgHands Framing New York Harbor

From WNYC:

.. examine his works closely, in particular, his pieces from the ‘60s and ‘70s, and you’ll find a wry sense of humor, not to mention a fascinating photographic chronicle of Southern California. If you only have time to watch one video in its entirety, opt for the 1977 film “Six Colorful Inside Jobs,” in which a room is painted and repainted with layer upon layer of luminous color. It's all kinds of trippy-cool.

The Met is rarely accused of being “trippy-cool” so this sounds like it’s well worth checking out. The show is open until January 9th.


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