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Accession #JHNBLDSSRI01

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Accession #JHNBLDSSRI01

10.00

1" x 1" 
Soft Enamel Pin
Single Posted
Rubber Clasp

Inspired by "Pure Beauty" by John Baldessari

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1" x 1" 
Soft Enamel Pin
Single Posted
Rubber Clasp

Inspired by "Pure Beauty" by John Baldessari

Initially a painter, Baldessari began to incorporate texts and photography into his canvases in the mid-1960s. In 1970 he began working in printmaking, film, video, installation, sculpture and photography. He has created thousands of works that demonstrate—and, in many cases, combine—the narrative potential of images and the associative power of language within the boundaries of the work of art. His art has been featured in more than 200 solo exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe. His work influenced Cindy Sherman, David Salle, Annette Lemieux, and Barbara Kruger among others.

John Baldessari was experimenting with using words in his work, "text paintings" and "Pure Beauty" is one example. Those two words, in black capital letters, on a painted white canvas. Curator Leslie Jones, who curated a Baldessari show called "Pure Beauty," says he was, again, trying to get us to think.

"What is pure beauty? And ultimately, pure beauty is a very subjective experience," says Jones. "You know, it could be a painting by Rothko. It could be about color, it could be about a beautiful landscape. But ultimately, everyone's notion of pure beauty is different. So, for me, this work is conveying that very idea, is that pure beauty is whatever you want to envision in your head."

Museum Director Michael Govan says that from childhood on, we're taught certain standards of beauty. "You know something's beautiful because somebody's told you it's beautiful, and so you'll use that as the definition," he says. "John's trying to unmake that simple reference, that it's beautiful because somebody else says it's beautiful, and wants you to think about it. What are the constructs of beauty?"

So, just two simple words on a canvas ... that can be pure beauty. It's funny, this stuff. Makes you laugh — at first.

"I would say that John's work possesses something like deep humor," Govan reflects. "It's funny, but ... it leads you somewhere. It's never a one-liner that ends there. It's always based on some deep philosophy, consideration, reconsideration, way of seeing. It's never just funny for the sake of being funny."

Baldessari finds humor — in his work and in this world. Awhile ago, one of his text paintings sold for $4.4 million.

Learn more about the work that inspired this pin HERE.

Watch this awesome video about Baldessari, narrated by Tom Waits HERE.