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John BaldessariBeethoven's Trumpet: In One Ear & Out the Same Ear

Past exhibition

John BaldessariBeethoven's Trumpet: In One Ear & Out the Same Ear

About the Exhibition

John Baldessari is an artist whose artworks often point out the irony in contemporary art theory and practices. His exhibition at The Arts Club features four interactive sculptures titled Beethoven’s Trumpet (With Ear) Opp. #127, 130, 131, and 133 No. 2. Large white ears with projecting bronze-plated ear trumpets—gigantic replicas of the one used by composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)—play excerpts from Beethoven’s late string quartets when triggered by sound. Composed while Beethoven was partially deaf, these opuses are part of his last series of string quartets, known for their intellectual complexity and apparent rejection of the romantic pathos that pervaded Beethoven’s middle period. The partial deafness of a composer inspired Baldessari to question the process of, and capacities for, hearing. The sculptures draw attention to the ear and our sense of hearing, and underscore the paradox of a musician who does not hear.

Originally shown at Bonner Kunstverein in Bonn, Germany (12 May-29 July 2007), this is the first exhibition of this work in the United States. In his recent work Baldessari continues to focus on ironic portrayals of the face, accentuating noses and ears—pointing out how selection or omission can shape visual memory and interfere with identification, editing, and censoring—emphasizing “what we leave in and what we leave out.”

About the Artist

John Baldessari (June 17, 1931, National City, CA–2020, Los Angeles, CA), best known as a conceptual artist whose projects include artist books, videos, films, billboards and public works, has been featured in more than 120 solo exhibitions in the United States and Europe. Baldessari attended San Diego State University and did post-graduate work at Otis Art Institute, Chouinard Art Institute, and the University of California, Berkeley. He taught at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia from 1970 to 1988 and has been teaching at the University of California, Los Angeles, since 1996. Baldessari and his work have had great influence and impact on contemporary art, and on many young American and European artists. His awards include the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art Medal (2007), Americans for the Arts Lifetime Achievement Award (2005), the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative (2005), and the Oscar Kokoschka Prize from Austria (1996).