John Baldessari’s The Giacometti Variations

Fondazione Prada, Milan / Italy

October 18, 2010

John Baldessari
“The Giacometti Variations”

29 October – 31 December 2010

Thursday , 28 October 2010

Via Fogazzaro 36
Tuesday to Sunday, 11 am – 8 pm
Closed Mondays
Free admission
Publication: Progetto Prada Arte
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The Prada Foundation is pleased to announce the forthcoming exhibition, devoted to the artist John Baldessari (born 1931, National City, CA), which will be held at Via Fogazzaro 36 in Milan, from October 29 to December 31, 2010.

The California artist has conceived an entirely original project for the Prada Foundation, titled The Giacometti Variations. It consists of a series of huge figures 15 feet tall, inspired by the imagination of the Swiss sculptor, which will be clothed and outfitted with garments and objects designed by Baldessari himself, thus forming a hypothetical, though immobile, fashion show. It captures an idea of integration and dialogue between art and fashion, where the osmosis between model and sculpted figure becomes a declaration of mutual attraction and communication.

The artist himself describes the logic of the project as follows:

“I’ve always wanted to do tall paintings and sculptures. I suspect it’s because I am quite tall. I’ve had little opportunity since most galleries have wall heights that mirror the wall heights of collector’s homes.

A few years ago, I was invited to show in Haus Der Kunst, Munich. Since the entrance hall is extremely tall, I began thinking about tall work I could do there to capture the space.

One of my ideas was the idea that I have proposed to the Prada Foundation.

My plan is to elongate standing Giacometti sculptures and clothe them with garments.

To extend an extreme existing idea to its logical conclusion has been a working method for me. Giacometti figures are the most skinny and emaciated sculpture that exist. Why not push that further? Also there currently is a blurring of art and fashion. Furthermore it is au courant, almost de rigueur that fashion models be extremely tall and thin. Why not fuse the two—art and fashion—since that idea is in our zeitgeist? I’m sure I was also inspired by the Degas Ballerina sculptures clothed with real tutus. The finished work would be the row of columns (at the foundation building) alternating with clothed attenuated pseudo Giacometti figures.

Is this parody? I’m not sure. I hate categories and definitions—I certainly am borrowing. Isn’t this what artists do? Doesn’t art arise from art? What I am doing is furthering an idea—that is the requirement of any good art.”
—John Baldessari, December ’09

Born in National City, California in 1931, John Baldessari is one of the most influential artists of his generation. Known above all for his conceptual works, centered around processes of choice and selection, he uses techniques ranging from photography to words to texts, whose rules he subverts and exposes, interrogating the spectator in a sort of ironic game of deconstruction.

He attended San Diego State University and continued his studies at the Otis Art Institute, the Chouinard Art Institute, and the University of California at Berkeley. He taught at the California Institute of the Arts at Valencia, CA, from 1970 to 1988 and at the University of California at Los Angeles from 1996 to 2007.

His works have been shown in more than 200 solo exhibitions and over 900 group shows in the United States and Europe. His projects include artist’s books, videos, films, billboards, and public works. He is an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has won the Americans for the Arts Lifetime Achievement Award, the Rolex Mentor Prize and the Protegé Arts Initiative, as well as the Lifetime Achievement Award in the Visual Arts for the State of California, the Kokoschka Prize, the “Spectrum” Internationaler Preis für Fotografie, the BACA International 2008, and the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, awarded by La Biennale di Venezia in 2009. He has received honorary degrees from the Irish National University, from San Diego State University, and the Otis Art Institute of the Parsons School of Design.

His recent projects include shows in New York, Madrid, and Los Angeles; installations at the Museum Haus Lange in Krefeld, Germany, and at Sprüth Magers London; and the retrospective exhibition “John Baldessari: Pure Beauty,” which opened at the Tate Modern in London in 2009, traveled in 2010 to the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and which will continue at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (October 2010 – January 2011).

Upcoming projects include new work with Kaldor Public Art Projects in Sidney, Australia, as well as the show at the Fondazione Prada in Milan.

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