What i saw: John Baldessari prints, 1976–2015
Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles
from 8 February 2020 to April 14 2020
John Baldessari (b. 1931, National City, California) has been widely regarded as one of contemporary art’s most influential artists. To celebrate the artist’s life and to commemorate his passing on January 2, 2020, Cirrus presents an exhibition of Baldessari prints, spanning nearly forty years. The exhibition will inaugurate Cirrus’s fiftieth anniversary year, and celebrate its long collaboration with the Los Angeles-based conceptual artist. It opens February 8 and runs through April 14.
What I Saw: John Baldessari Prints, 1976–2015 comprises thirty-two prints, that capture Baldessari’s signature use of montage to combine banal images in sometimes discordant visual juxtapositions, or with unexpected text. His self-consciously populist approach, in which he employed found photographs, film stills, or photography of everyday objects, uses allegory and disjointed narrative, in sometimes obfuscating ways, and invites the viewer to construct meaning.
The exhibition includes several important portfolios and individual works produced in collaboration with Cirrus. Raw Prints (1976) includes six works with tipped-in color photographs of everyday street scenes taken by the artist as a compositional device, which he used to mark out an area of color or linear shape in the print. The Fallen Easel (1988), an ambitious and unpredictable, multi- part composition of individually-framed and mounted images takes on a noir cast as the picture physically breaks apart, suggesting a rapid, chaotic cutting of film stills. Baldessari’s humor is also on display—The First $100,000 I Ever Made (2012), and two prints from Engravings with Sounds (2015), showcase his signature wit, while the major portfolio of ten prints, Hegel’s Cellar (1986), and his Cliché series (1995), explore his biting insight.
Internationally recognized and widely exhibited, Baldessari addressed the social and cultural impact of mass culture, and reinvented the terms of display and image-making throughout his career.