This exhibition was the first major survey of John Baldessari’s work from the previous 30 years to be shown in the UK.
The survey came at a moment of revival of interest in conceptual art – a revival that was also having considerable influence on younger generations of artists.
Baldessari’s approach to conceptual art has always been ironic and playful, in marked contrast to the philosophical austerity of the East Coast conceptual artists.
This show began with work from the early 1960s, when Baldessari began to experiment with various styles of art. His assemblages of random scraps of billboard posters, which play with the disjunctive image and the effects of chance, date from this period.
In 1966, Baldessari turned his back on painting once and for all and chose instead to use photographs and text. Periodically, he banned any image, restricting himself to pure language.