John Baldessari’s Final Body of Work Is on View at Sprüth Magers LA

Sprüth Magers Los Angeles is showcasing the final body of work created by the legendary artist John Baldessari, who passed away in 2020. Entitled “The Space Between,” the 30 works on display seem simplistic at first glance, but upon closer inspection, begin to open a range of dialogue that invites the viewer to question the ways in which we prescribe meaning to the multitude of visual lexicon that dominate our everyday lives.

A master of semiotics, Baldessari’s last set of works were made using inkjet prints on canvases — which emblematic to the artist’s oeuvre — were intricately recomposed using white and black acrylic paint. In The Space Between Two Cowboys, a pair of smiling men, who seemingly appear to be cowboys, are stripped of the surrounding space or cultural context in which we ascribe them meaning. The artist once told Art21 in a 2009 interview, “When you’re looking at two things, don’t look at them, look between them…The space between two things, that’s very important.”

As you walk around the gallery, the works increasingly become more abstract — where instead of a cowboy, truck or woman — the art and its corresponding descriptor shifts from one meaning to the other. For example, in The Space Between Woman and Man or The Space Between Banana and Hand, Baldessari flips the script — instead of painting out the surrounding print, he paints in the object or person in the description, sometimes using imagery that are completely unrelated to the caption. As you look closer, from foreground to background, you begin to wonder what the original image was to begin with. “Baldessari himself occupied a “space between” — working between painting and photography, art and other disciplines — that can never be filled,” the gallery said in a statement.

A close colleague of Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers for over three decades, it is only fitting that Baldessari, one of the 20th and 21st Centuries greatest artists, has his final body of work in his hometown of LA. John Baldessari’s “The Space Between” is on view at Sprüth Magers until September 11.

Also happening in art, Gaku Inada has created a series of artworks on display at Nepenthes NYC.
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