John Baldessari marries Miró with Hollywood

The conceptual artist’s latest series mixes art and cinema history

Californian John Baldessari is 85, yet his art and mind are fresh as ever. Since the 1960s, he has played with the juxtaposition of imagery, painting and text through hybrid compositions.

A new series, exhibited at London’s Marian Goodman Gallery, sees him apply this signature. He mixes the paintings of Spanish modernist Joan Miró, known for his childlike use of colours, with classic Hollywood film stills. At the bottom of each of Baldessari’s works is a random word, such as ‘Right’, ‘Necessary’ or ‘Incumbent’.

In an interview with Dazed, Baldessari said: “I’ve always liked Miró’s work and I had this crazy idea, because when I do a show usually there are 15 or 16 pieces in it, so what I did was take a typical Miró and chop it up into 16 parts and combined it with an image above from the movies, and make a work of the two.”

The meaning behind the works in Miró and Life In General are difficult to decipher. For the launch, Marian Goodman’s director Valerie Blair said; “The works are imbued with John’s typical sense of humour – making puns, playing with the relationship between words and images, pop culture and high culture.”

Its seems that Baldessari does not want the viewer to understand his direct intention with each work. He even kept the names of the original films hidden. So, as is typical with much of his work, it is more about the process of discovery than the meaning itself.