John Baldessari

John Baldessari at Frieze Sculpture July 4 - November 7, 2018



“I think the idea of vaudeville clowns and court jesters is always to show the flaw, to point out what’s not working and why it’s not coherent. So I share a lot of that. I do think a lot of dumb humour is incredibly profound at the same time. An antisophistication can be kind of refreshing, I think.”

– John Baldessari

Marian Goodman Gallery is delighted to announce John Baldessari’s participation in Frieze Sculpture 2018, running from July 4 – November 7, 2018. This will be the artist’s first presentation in the sculpture park, where he will be unveiling a new work titled Penguin, 2018, continuing his significant and exciting expansion into sculpture.

One of the pre-eminent innovators of conceptual art in America, Baldessari’s practice inventively reveals the connotations and associations possible, when established visual signifiers are recontextualised or represented in new configurations. His most recent sculpture to date, Penguin, is made with polyurethane, a material used in the manufacturing of high-end sports cars, attributing the sculpture with both strength and lightness. Standing at six feet and seven inches tall – the same height as the artist – the sculpture depicts Baldessari as a penguin, maintaining strong conceptual resonances with some of his earlier two-dimensional work, most notably, his Portrait series from 1974, where the artist found ways in which he could conceal and distort his identity.

In uprooting the penguin from its typical spatiotemporal context and manipulating its scale, the artist plays games with our sensory perception. Drawing upon classical Hollywood tropes, the work alludes to the dancing penguins in Mary Poppins and Charlie Chaplin’s enigmatic walk. As with the sculpture, these filmic ‘birds’ are both funny and destabilizing. As is often the case when encountering a work by Baldessari, the limits of our preconceptions and conditioned responses are exposed, as a recognised image is reconceived in an unfamiliar context.

Baldessari has experimented with size in his sculpture before, most notably with his monumental, Camel (Albino), Contemplating Needle (Large), 2013 and Fake Carrot, 2016, both of which were included in the recent survey of his work, Learning to Read with John Baldessari at Museo Jumex, Mexico, highlighting the importance of the three dimensional in his practice. Fake Carrot will also be on view at Marian Goodman Gallery’s Frieze London 2018 booth later this year.


John Baldessari was born in 1931 in National City, California. He currently lives in Santa Monica, California. Recent solo exhibitions have been held at Museo Jumex, Mexico City, Mexico (2017); the Städel Museum, Frankfurt, Germany (2015); the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow, Russia (2013) and at the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands (2012).

Baldessari’s work was the subject of the major retrospective, Pure Beauty, which retraced his career from 1962 to 2010. Organized by Tate Modern, London, the exhibition travelled to MACBA, Barcelona; LACMA, Los Angeles, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York from 2010-2011.

His work was included in the 47th Venice Biennale (1997) and 53rd Venice Biennale (2009) where he won the Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement.

For further information, please contact Charlie Nia Dunnery McCracken at or +44 (0)20 7099 0088.

Download PDF of press release


John Baldessari at Frieze Sculpture