“I realized there was this whole image bank that people carried around with them, and I could manipulate it just by suggestions and distortions. Of course they were all about kissing and guns.” –John Baldessari
In his impressive and influential oeuvre spanning almost six decades, John Baldessari consistently exposed the complex and ambiguous narrative potential of images. Drawing from a carefully collected pool of visual signs, he explored how meaning is not necessarily an inherent quality of an image, but is created, deconstructed or obscured when taken out of context, altered or combined with other images or words.
“The world is not the external world as we know it. I use images from the television, from movies, from video, from other material.”–John Baldessari
“What I’m looking at in a photograph is usually the stuff that’s marginal . . . It’s the stuff you see out of the corner of your eye, rather than what you’d normally focus on.” –John Baldessari
A final section of the exhibition examines another cornerstone in Baldessari’s practice: the art of removal. Covering faces with dots or painting over whole figures, he made subjects interchangeable and directed attention toward the surrounding contexts in which they appear.
As The Story Underneath makes clear, the maquettes were a vital ground for Baldessari, where he could experiment with the images at hand, test the limits of narrative, and explore various alternatives on the way to his final celebrated works of art.
On the occasion of the exhibition, Sprüth Magers will publish a catalogue with full color illustrations and an essay by Nana Bahlmann.