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Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction

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London

John Baldessari
1931 - 2020
THE OVERLAP SERIES; STREET SCENE AND RECLINING PERSON (WITH SHOES)
colour photograph and digital print, and digital print mounted on Sintra board with acrylic and felt-tip pen, in artist's frames, in three parts
overall: 154.9 by 213.4 cm. 61 by 84 in.
Executed in 2000.
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Provenance

Marian Goodman Gallery, New York
Private Collection
Phillips, New York, 17 May 2007, Lot 59
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Exhibited

London, Tate Modern; Barcelona, Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona; Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, John Baldessari: Pure Beauty, October 2009 - January 2011, p. 283, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

Executed in 2009, The Overlap Series: Street Scene and Reclining Person (with Shoes) signifies the playful juxtaposition and reimagining of the logic of space typical of John Baldessari’s celebrated artistic production. Replete with vintage automobiles and towering palm trees, the present work offers an iconographic depiction of a Los Angeles cityscape. Bisecting the horizontal picture plane, a second vertical panel is further divided into two distinct images. In the lower half, a man lays on the ground, a harsh and arid landscape surrounds him. Perhaps the protagonist is resting, perhaps something more sinister has taken place? The third image exists at the intersection of the two panels. It is within this hybridised precinct that Baldessari utilises an obliterating mechanism in the form of colour-blocking various shapes with spirited silhouettes rendered in vivid hues; a gesture of cancellation characteristic of the artist’s eminent style. Baldessari’s damnatio memoriae aims to conceal but in actuality serves to highlight and expose. Furthermore, the present work attests to Baldessari’s disavowel of the centrality of bodies and faces. The artist’s eclipsing of the regiments of facial identity underwritten by the genre of academic portraiture mirrors gestures made by artists such as Pablo Piccaso; artists who refused conventional portraiture with the destabilisation of facialiased personhood. The result of which is a mystifying and at times voyeuristic view point.

In 1970 in an infamous act of provocation and incineration, Baldessari set fire to over one hundred of his canvases produced between 1953 and 1966, folding the charred remains into cookie batter and stowing a separate portion inside a book-shaped urn that became a fixture on his studio shelf. The Cremation Project marked the formal beginning of a multifaceted practice; one that embraced a wide range of media including video, film, photography, sculpture, prints, and installations. As in The Overlap Series, many of Baldessari’s photographic works often incorporate film stills. Speaking of his use of appropriated photography, Baldessari comments, “I was trying to be artless. I thought the more I’m involved with art, the more artful I’m becoming, so how do I get myself out of that? Well, have other people do things for me, or just use other people’s imaging” (John Baldessari cited in: Jessica Morgan, ‘Somebody to talk to: John Baldessari’, Tate Etc, 1 September 2009, online). Baldessari’s incorporation of commercial media and film stills allowed him to explore new dimensions of free association, probing the deeper subtleties of absurdity and Surrealism with a wicked sense of humour and identifying him as one of the most original voices of our time.

Contemporary Art Day Auction

|
London