The Arts Club of Chicago is pleased to announce the opening of John Baldessari’s exhibition entitled Beethoven’s Trumpet: In One Ear & Out the Same Ear on Wednesday 7 November 2007. John Baldessari (b. June 17, 1931, National City, 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. His artwork often points out the irony in contemporary art theory and practices. Baldessari attended San Diego State University and did post-graduate work at Otis Art Institute, Chouinard Art Institute, and University of California, Berkeley. He taught at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia from 1970 – 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).
The Arts Club exhibition will feature four interactive sculptures entitled 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 a part of his last series of string quartets which are known for their intellectual complexity and apparent rejection of the romantic pathos which pervades 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.”