John BaldessariThe Daily Middle

text by Becky Elmquist

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Econ-o-Wash, 14th and Highland, National City, Calif., 1966-1968
The Spectator Is Compelled…, 1966-1968

 

At 85 years old, John Baldessari is preparing for his next show at Marian Goodman Gallery in London, which opens soon after Pollock/Benton at the gallery’s New 
York location. With over one thousand solo and group exhibitions to date, there’s still more on the horizon for the astoundingly prolific artist. In fact, he pauses a few times during our interview to make sure he hasn’t left anything out. Pollock/Benton marks his 12th solo exhibition with the gallery since 2005.
The work on view examines
 the well-known relationship between Jackson Pollock and Thomas Hart Benton. Benton, 23 years Pollock’s senior, was a mentor, teacher, and close friend to the young painter. “It interested me how one artist could be interested in another artist,” explains Baldessari. “Before Pollock and after Pollock, like before Christ and after Christ, you know everything changed, and that interested me,” he continues in regard to the exhibition. Pollock/Benton explores this particular creative relationship as a confluence of two distinct practices through historical narratives.

Baldessari’s focus on the “late greats” is a somewhat new theme for him. It is in this trifecta—a blend of conceptual, abstract expressionist, and regionalist art—that his new body of work celebrates his conceptual magic while erasing shades of the old to create the new.

 

“STANDING AT 6’ 7’’, WITH SHINY WHITE HAIR AND AN IMPRESSIVE BEARD TO MATCH, BALDESSARI’S IMPOSING APPEARANCE COMMANDS ATTENTION AND IN A WAY HARKENS BACK TO THE MYTHICAL MALE ARTIST FIGURE.”

  Download MUSE America The Travel Issue to read the full interview.