John Baldessari (American, b. 1931) God Nose, 1965 Oil on canvas; 68 x 57 in. (172.7 x 144.8 cm) Private collection © John Baldessari


October 20, 2010–January 9, 2011 – The Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York

This is the first major U.S. exhibition in twenty years to survey the work of the legendary American artist John Baldessari, widely renowned as a pioneer of conceptual art.Baldessari (b. 1931, National City, California) turned from an early career in painting toward photographic images that he combined with text, using the freeways, billboards, and strip malls of Southern California as his frequent sources. In his groundbreaking work of the late 1960s, he transferred snapshots of banal locales around his hometown onto photo-sensitized canvases and hired a sign painter to label them with their locations or excerpts from how-to books on photography. Throughout the whole of his career, Baldessari’s sharp insights into the conventions of art production, the nature of perception, and the relationship of language to mass-media imagery are tempered by a keen sense of humor. The exhibition brings together a full range of the artist’s innovative work over five decades, from his early paintings and phototext works, his combined photographs, and the irregularly shaped and over-painted works of the 1990s, to his most recent production. A selection of his videos and artist’s books will also be included in the exhibition.

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