John Baldessari has being doing art Defacing for a very long time. This all started in the 80’s with round color price stickers used over the person’s face and it has being evolving since… Just about a year ago today… I went to see Baldessari’s Pure Beauty show at the Tate Modern in London. Here are a few pictures from the show.
By the mid 1980s, Baldessari had begun to conceal faces by strategically placing white spots or, later, coloured dots on ordinary black and white portraits, the kind that would appear in the society section of a local newspaper. Initially Baldessari had avoided using such images because he detested the life they represented and because the faces, even if they were unfamiliar, dominated the image. Covering the faces rendered them anonymous and powerless, enabling the artist to emphasise other elements in the photographs.
The dots form a system, linking the divergent narratives of each image to the adjacent one, encouraging viewers to read the images together and guess at possible hidden connections. This structure is reinforced through the careful use of large blocks of colour and line, literally linking together incompatible subjects, like a mountain climber and scuba diver.