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John Baldessari’s Miro And A Life In General
"Apropos", 2016Copyright John Baldessari, courtesy the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, Paris & London, photography Joshua White

Remixing art and cinema history with John Baldessari

The ‘godfather of conceptual art’ returns to London with new works combining Miró paintings, classic film stills, and text

At 85, John Baldessari is showing no signs of slowing down. And this week, London’s Marian Goodman will present new works by the “godfather of conceptual art” in an exhibition titled Miro And Life In General.

Spanish painter Joan Miró’s work is juxtaposed alongside classic Hollywood film stills (of which Baldessari partially paints over) and words such as “Reliable”, “Necessary”, “True”, “Unfailing” are included – each a synonym of the other. Speaking on the phone from his studio in Venice Beach – of which he reveals he still works at every day – Baldessari explains, “I’ve always liked Miró’s work and I had this crazy idea, because when I do a show usually there are 15 or 16 pieces in it, so what I did was take a typical Miró and chop it up into 16 parts and combined it with an image above from the movies, and make a work of the two.”

Baldessari began to pair photography with texts in the mid-1960s. By toying with the power of language and imagery, he demonstrates the ability to create a “third narrative” where any meaning behind his work is left to the interpretation of the viewer. Honing his now-signature style after burning his previous archive in 1970 and making cookies out of the ashes, in his six-decade career, he has appeared in over 1,000 shows and has hosted more than 200 solo exhibitions. As a prolific artist within the conceptual art moment as well as a teacher, Miró and Life in General sees Baldessari once again remixing art and cinema history all-the-while questioning his own place within those two realms.

Miró and Life in General opens at London’s Marian Goodman Gallery 10 January – 25 February 2017