It began many years ago with an innocent interest in the way people like to anthropomorphize. Animals, objects, just about anything can be given human characteristics. Following his curiosity, John Baldessari soon began making his own pictures of objects with barely perceptible human features. Maybe they would be detected, maybe they wouldn’t. It was akin to seeing the Virgin Mary in a tortilla.
Next came a series of noses and ears gleefully placed on colorful, flat, somewhat lumpy and rounded shapes: faces. He recently looked again at these mustard- and cobalt-colored face shapes that populate his studio, and he came to a decisive conclusion about the next stage of this exploration:
Potato chips! Those faces could be potato chips! Look! He handed over a stack of prints of chips with just visible full faces peering out at us, only to issue a kind-hearted warning: These are really too perfect. Life isn’t perfect. Potato chips break, pieces crack off. Think of the Venus de Milo, and I think you’ll know where I’m going with this book. And look, I have a title too…
And in this way John Baldessari’s Miracle Chips began to make their way one by one into the world.
Artist book / original work for print
stitched book block with a reinforced spine; folded paper cover with broad flaps; printed board slipcase
20.3 x 24.8 cm (8 x 9.75 in.); 80 pages
36 color images
Book paper: Tauro Offset 1,2 120g, a wood-free, acid-free, uncoated paper
Printing: book and cover were printed on Steidl’s Roland 700 and Roland 200 offset-lithographic presses using a four-color process throughout; slipcase is silkscreened.
Concept and work: John Baldessari
Project development: Nina Holland and Jerry Sohn/Little Steidl
Book design: Nina Holland, John Baldessari, and Simon Johnston
Potato inspiration: Jerry Sohn
Production and printing: Steidl, Göttingen
A Little Steidl book published by Steidl in 2009
This title is sold out
About the Artist
John Baldessari was born in 1931 in National City, California, and today lives and works in Santa Monica, California. His art has been featured in more than 200 solo exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe and in over 750 group exhibitions. His projects include artist books, videos, films, billboards and public works. His awards include the Americans for the Arts lifetime achievement award, the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, the Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts in California, the Oscar Kokoschka Prize from Austria and the Spectrum-International Award for Photography of the Foundation of Lower Saxony, Germany. A retrospective of his work opened at the Tate Modern, London in 2009 and traveled to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.