Pure Beauty

The legendary artist John Baldessari talks about his interactive exhibition at the Tate Modern and the eternal pursuit of beauty

Bloody Sundae, 1987, courtesy of the artist
John Baldessari is commonly referred to as one of the pioneering forefathers of Conceptual Art, and he is undoubtedly one of the most influential artists of the last 50 years. Always ready to take risks, the revered Baldessari burned the majority of his early paintings back in 1970 in the often-cited The Cremation Project, which marked both an end, and a Phoenix-like starting point to the rest of his career.
 
Juxtaposing seemingly incongruous imagery with text, Baldessari confronts the viewer to question preconceptions and meaning but never fails to inject his works with a heavy dose of humour. Breaking from the confines of the traditional rectangular format of both canvas and photograph, he has played with the composition of his work for the past three decades, employing a dizzying variety of unconventional shapes and configurations. He omits information in his photomontages by fracturing his found imagery or masking areas with colourful circular interventions, so that you’re always left  very aware that he is toying with the apparatus of your perception.
 
At 78 years old Baldessari is once more embarking on new terrain, working with interactive installations. With both his touring retrospective currently at Tate Modern and his recently opened solo show at Sprüth Magers Berlin we are certainly in store for a giggle. Luckily, he found some time in his busy schedule to talk to Dazed DIgital...
 
John Baldessari Pure Beauty at Tate Modern until January 10, 2010.
Hands and/or Feet (Part Two) at Sprüth Magers Berlin until January 16, 2010.

Film Direction by Sophie Smith

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