Exhibition | Being Human: The Graphic Work of George Baldessin | Heide Museum of Modern Art

Being Human: The Graphic Work of George Baldessin

Heide Museum of Modern Art until Sunday 19 October 2020

George Baldessin, Seated Figure, 1973, colour etching and aquatint plate 56.2 x 50.5 cm Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne Gift of Tess, Gabriel and Ned Baldessin 2010 © Estate of George Baldessin

About the Exhibition | In a short but intensive career as a painter, sculptor and printmaker, George Baldessin attracted critical acclaim from peers and audiences alike, admired for his expertise in intaglio printing (etching) and his radical figurative style during the 1960s and 70s when abstraction was dominant.

Being Human: The Graphic Work of George Baldessin, focuses on Baldessin’s powerful prints and drawings, created between the artist’s exhibition debut in 1964 and his untimely death in 1978, aged thirty-nine.

The exhibition includes seventeen works recently gifted to the museum by the Estate of George Baldessin, which will be exhibited together at Heide for the first time, along with prints from the Heide Collection by Baldessin’s contemporaries including Roger Kemp, Les Kossatz, Jan Senbergs and Fred Williams, which provide a vivid context for Baldessin’s work.

The artist’s distinctive silvery-grey and black-and-white images of female nudes and dramatic figure tableaux—which draw on the surreal world of the circus and European New Wave cinema among other influences—are at once both emotionally confronting and poetic, offering meditations on the body as the concrete basis of experience.

Heide has worked closely with the artist’s widow, Tess Edwards Baldessin, on this project, and a number of related programs will be offered to complement the exhibition, including a tour of The Baldessin Press. Built by George and Tess Baldessin in the 1970s, the print-making studio now operates as a creative retreat for artists’ workshops and residencies.

Curated by Linda Short.

George Baldessin was born in Italy in 1939 and immigrated to Australia with his family in 1949. He studied painting at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) from 1958-61, but was also drawn to the activities of the printmaking and sculpture departments. After graduating he travelled to Europe then London where he attended printmaking classes at The Chelsea School of Art before commencing studies at the Brera Academy, Milan under the Italian modernist sculptor Marino Marini. He returned to Australia in 1963 and in 1964 he became a part-time lecturer at RMIT. He held his first solo exhibition of prints, drawing and sculpture at Melbourne’s Argus Gallery in the same year.

Baldessin went on to exhibit in over forty solo and group exhibitions in Australia and overseas. His work is held in many major private and public collections in Australia and overseas, including Museum of Modern Art, New York, National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of South Australia, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Museums & Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, Queensland Art Gallery, Tasmania Museum and Art Gallery, other regional galleries and university collections. One of his most celebrated sculptures, and the last he created before his death in 1978 is Mary Magdalene 1978-1983 which is part of the permanent outdoor sculpture collection at Heide, on view near the entrance to Heide II, the modernist house.

Related Programs

Art Talk with Tess Edwards Baldessin | Saturday 31 August, 2pm

Morning Teat with Tess Edwards Baldessin and Katrina Strickland | Thursday 14 August, 10–11.30am

Art Tour to the Baldessin Press | Saturday 13 September, 10am–2pm

See the exhibition website for further information: http://www.heide.com.au/exhibitions/current/exhibition/being-human-the-graphic-work-of-george-baldessin/edate/2014-05-03/eid/596