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John Baldessari, "Movie Scripts / Art: And will surprise me, " 2014
Diptych; varnished inkjet print on canvas with acrylic paint
65-7/8 X 108 in. / 167.3 x 274.3 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery
Photo: Joshua White

John Baldessari may live in Venice but his more recent work is on view in New York at the prestigious Marian Goodman Gallery. Movie Scripts/Art, on view to November 22, proves that at 83, the artist continues to rattle expectations.  Excerpts from film scripts are buttressed against excerpts from old master paintings from the collection of the Stadel Museum in Frankfurt. The typed texts, collaged from actual scripts with sentences added by Baldessari, reference collecting strategies and play against the enlarged and cropped fine art reproductions. Each work pits market against museum, commerce againt conoisseurship, a dual that an artist of Baldessari’s generation, and proclivities, could scarcely help but entertain. 

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John Baldessari, "The News: Person Holding Umbrella"
© 2014 John Baldessari and Gemini G.E.L. LLC 

A show of prints by the artist at Gemini G.E.L. at Joni Moisant Weyl in New York — and at Gemini in LA, where the show closes November 7 — pursues a parallel format with different aims. Titled The News, each print pairs a photograph drawn from that beleaguered source of information, the newspaper, with captions that describe an activity taking place in a photograph in the same newspaper so that the image is at odds with the description. The dislocation of meaning and representation in both shows has long been Baldessari’s stock in trade but that doesn’t mean it gets old. In fact, he is doing it as well as he’s ever done. (Baldessari’s work will be featured in this spring in the inaugural exhibition of Sprueth Magers gallery when it opens in the mid-Wilshire district.) 

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Installation view of "Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs"
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Photo: Jonathan Muzikar
© 2014 The Museum of Modern Art

On the topic of mature artists and late in life triumphs, Henri Matisse: The Cut Outs is a full presentation of these extraordinary works made during the last decade of the artist’s life. Though known to most of us through reproductions, it doesn’t compare to an immersion into galleries full of these seemingly simple, utterly delightful creations. Each piece of paper was painted with gouache and then cut into shapes that read as leaves, figures or animals, arranged on the wall of his studio or boards. He worked with assistants but the genius in the final product is pure Matisse. The show continues to February 8, 2015. 

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Pablo Picasso, "Woman in a Chemise in an Armchair"
Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection
Paris, late 1913–early 1914
Oil on canvas 59 x 39 1/8 in. / 149.9 x 99.4 cm
Promised Gift from the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection
© 2014 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Of course, the other major force of early 20th century modern art was Picasso and if you didn’t get to Paris for the opening of the newly expanded Picasso Museum, you can see a superb, even mind-boggling selection in Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through February 16, 2015.  Along with works by Braque, Gris and Leger, the 81 piece collection is promised to the museum.

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Picasso with Bob (the Great Pyrenees)
Château de Boisgeloup, France, 1932
Modern print from original negative
4 5/8 x 2 3/4 inches (11.7 x 6.9 cm)
Archives Olga Ruiz-Picasso
© Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte (FABA)
Courtesy Archives Olga Ruiz-Picasso and Gagosian Gallery
Photographer unknown

For further immersion, Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea features a scholarly yet completely entertaining exhibition organized by Picasso biographer John Richardson, Picasso & the Camera with informal snaps and formal portraits, portraying the artist and his various friends and lovers. Films of Picasso, books from his collection, pieces of furniture combine to offer an unprecedented sense of the artist as well as the art. The show closes January 3, 2015. 

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Carl Andre installation at Dia: Beacon

Other highlights of my trip included Carl Andre: Sculpture as Place, 1958-2010, an overdue retrospective of the minimalist’s largely floor-oriented work that leaves no doubt about the significance of the artist’s place in history. A portion will make its way to MOCA in 2016 but the relationship of the sculpture to the space at Dia warrants a train trip up the Hudson. Zero: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s-1960s at the Guggenheim is the first in-depth presentation of German Zero artists Otto Piene and Heinz Mack and their international cronies seeking to redefine art after the Second World War. Captivating and timely, it is on view through January 7, 2015.

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Chris Ofili at New Museum

Last, but not least, what has Chris Ofili been doing since his dung ball paintings during his breakthrough as YBA? The New Museum presents his first retrospective Night and Day, which reveals the artist’s growth as a painter while  complicating and expanding on his earlier ideas about black identity and culture. On view through January 25, 2015.

It’s a great fall season in the Big A.

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