John Baldessari: Wall Painting exhibition to launch Monash University’s MADA Gallery

Monash University students will bring to life an unrealised artwork by renowned American artist and educator John Baldessari to relaunch the MADA Gallery at Monash University, Australia on Saturday 7 October.

Monash Art Design & Architecture (MADA) Associate Professor Tara McDowell has organised the Baldessari exhibition, hoping the participatory artwork will promote discussion around the newly relaunched gallery.

“Twenty-four students will be making this work,” she said. “They have loose instructions on what to do, which is to paint one gallery wall a different colour each day. But they get to choose the colours and their reasons are often very personal,” McDowell said.

The gallery is open to the public while the students paint, so their labour is also on view.

After painting a wall, the student will hang a black and white framed photograph of the pyramids on the centre of the wall. Also included are Baldessari’s Class Assignments, developed in 1970 for his well-known post-studio class at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts).

McDowell’s recent research into Baldessari included his canonical 1971 work I will not make any more boring art, a ‘punishment piece’ that involved students writing the line repeatedly over the walls of the Mezzanine Gallery at Canada’s Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

As McDowell researched this work, she came across a 2007 interview where the artist described a work that he had never realised:

‘… [T]here’s a project I wanted to do where I would have a wall and every day a painter would come in and paint the wall a different color. It turned out to be too costly at the time. And then on the wall there would be a little framed black-and-white photograph of the pyramids, and this would be the idea of timelessness, with all this business going on in the background.’

“It struck me that this could be done in Melbourne, at a distance and crowd-sourced, so I wrote him a typed letter and sent it by snail mail,” McDowell explains. “I expected nothing would come of it.”

In this work, Baldessari prompts us to consider what makes a work of art and why. It is this participatory and experimental ethos, across both practice and teaching that the Faculty of Art and Architecture hopes to encourage in the MADA Gallery.

Funding for John Baldessari: Wall Painting has been generously provided by the United States Government. The project is also supported by a MADA Education Grant, provided through the MADA Education Committee in 2017.

For further information about the MADA Gallery Opening contact:

MADA Gallery: Caulfield Campus, Ground Floor, Building G

Gallery Hours: Monday – Friday, 10.00am – 5.00pm

Wall Painting opening event: Saturday 7 October, 3.00pm – 5.00pm

Wall Painting dates: Saturday 7 October – Wednesday 8 November

About John Baldessari

John Baldessari is a major American artist. A forerunner of conceptualism, he created thousands of artworks that explore the story-telling potential of photo and film images, prints, video, sculpture, and text.

Baldessari has mounted over 200 solo exhibitions, 1000 group shows all over Europe and America and is the recipient of the 2009 Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement award at the 53rd International Art Exhibition Venice Biennale, the 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americans for the Arts, the 1997 Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts, the 1988 Guggenheim Fellowship, among many others.

He also has a long career (1959 – 2008) as an art teacher. His most famous installation, I will not make any more boring art (1971) is an extraordinary experiment in conceptual art as pedagogy. Baldessari’s work and teaching has influenced generations of artists.

Wall Painting incorporates the practical, experimental, performative, hand-made, process, and idea-driven ethos of conceptualism in the late 60s and 70s.

At the same time, it demonstrates Baldessari’s pedagogy, one that operates outside the medium-specificity of studio practice, and offers a nuanced view of the artist’s role as maker and teacher.

About MADA

MADA is a multi-award winning community of artists, designers and architects working together to create a better future for individuals and communities around Australia and the world.

We’re part of Monash University, the largest university in Australia, and among the most highly regarded in the world. Monash is a member of the prestigious Group of Eight universities in Australia.

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