John Baldessari (b. 1931)
John Baldessari (b. 1931)

Equestrian (Flesh) in Brackets with Orange Showdown

John Baldessari (b. 1931)
Equestrian (Flesh) in Brackets with Orange Showdown
(i) acrylic on black and white photograph, in artist's frame
(ii) acrylic on colour photograph, in artist's frame
(i) 48 ¼ x 43in. (122.5 x 109.4cm.)
(ii) 32 x 53in. (81.2 x 134.9cm.)
overall: 68 ½ x 96in. (174 x 244.3cm.)
Executed in 1992
Sonnabend Gallery, New York.
Texas Gallery, Houston.
Southwestern Bell Corporation, San Antonio.
James Corcoran, Los Angeles.
Simon Lee Gallery, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2010.
P. Johnson, 'More Than the Sum of its Parts' in Houston Chronicle, 13 January 1993 (illustrated, unpaged).
L. Carey Martin (et al.), American Images: the SBC Collection of Twentieth-Century American Art, New York 1996, p. 281, pl. 83 (illustrated in colour, p. 170).
R. Dean and P. Pardo (eds.), John Baldessari Catalogue Raisonne, Volume 3: 1987-1993, New Haven 2015, no. 1992.4, (illustrated in colour, p. 364).
Houston, Texas Gallery, John Baldessari: Recent Work, 1992.


Paola Saracino Fendi
Paola Saracino Fendi


‘I always compare what I do to the work of a mystery writer—you don’t want to know the end of the book right away.’
– John Baldessari

Executed in 1992, Equestrian (Flesh) in Brackets with Orange Showdown exemplifies the captivating combinations of found imagery that have defined John Baldessari’s practice since the 1970s. Conceptual in spirit, yet inflected with the humour and vibrancy of Pop Art, his works ask how unrelated images might take on new meaning when brought into dialogue. Baldessari draws upon an extensive archive of contemporary photographic material, with a particular focus on stills from Hollywood films – the present work conjures scenes from an archetypal American Western movie. He purposefully disrupts the familiarity of his sources though random storyboard-style juxtaposition and through masking his subjects’ identity with painted coloured segments. This aspect of Baldessari’s practice, widely recognised as his trademark device, was inspired by a visit to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1965, where he was entranced by the use of unpainted plaster to fill in missing fragments of Greek vases. The encounter sparked an enduring interest in the way in which images are transformed by erasure and intervention – his coloured dots and shapes frequently serve to remove the specifics of the photograph, revealing the universal themes and structures that underpin popular visual culture. Frequently discussed in relation to his Surrealist forebears, in particular René Magritte, Baldessari had a revolutionary impact on art-making in the second half of the twentieth century, most notably with regards to the Pictures Generation and the rise of appropriation art.

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