KREFELD.- John Baldessari, born in 1931 the son of European emigrants in National City, California, and now resident in Santa Monica, is one of the pioneers of American concept art and numbers among the most prominent artists of our time. Parallel to this, through his teaching activities at the California Institute of Arts (1970-1988) and UCLA (since 1996) he has produced a number of artists who meanwhile have become every bit as renowned as their one-time teacher.
On several occasions in the last few years, Baldessari has taken to installing works in specific locations in such a way that they relate to the actual space. This has included the installation Adam and Eve (With Ear and Nose) plus Serpent at the Portikus, Frankfurt, and the installation at the Bonner Kunstverein (both 2007) on the occasion of his double exhibition Music in Bonn.
Baldessaris concept for his exhibition in Museum Haus Lange is as spectacular as it is radical; it is contra-Mies, as he says. Point of departure for him was the physical structure of the brick building. On the one hand he has focused on what for Mies was the source of an agonising confrontation with his client: Mies vainly attempted to increase the extent of the buildings outside glazing in order to increase the desired permeability between inside and out. However, the artist has used the former Bauhaus masters own idea quite pointedly against him: he has completely obscured the windows with pictures of bricks. At the same time though, he has intriguingly restored the connection between inside and outside by likewise covering the interior walls with brick wallpaper - in an extension of Miess ideas that takes them to their logical and absurd extreme!
To top it all, the artist has placed photographs of Californian land- and seascapes on the inside of the windows: as simulacra of the Miesian view through the window, these scenes bring about a complete dislocation of the building inside while at the same time simulating a link between the Lower Rhine and the artists home in California. Anti-Miesian furnishings in the form of an Ear-Couch, decorated with two vases shaped like noses (Nose Scones), are complemented on the outside by a winking window eye: ironic apercus that are further crowning points of this intervention. By bringing about a total metamorphosis of the building, the exhibition takes this new slant on Mies van der Rohe to its witty and ingenious extreme, to produce a truly matchless contribution to Bauhaus year 2009!