A Brief History of John Baldessari, Narrated by Tom Waits

Tom Waits nar­rates this whim­si­cal, fast-mov­ing intro­duc­tion to the life and work of West-Coast con­cep­tu­al artist John Baldessari. The film was direct­ed by Hen­ry Joost and Ariel Schul­man, the cre­ative team behind Cat­fish and Para­nor­mal Activ­i­ty 3. It was made for the Los Ange­les Coun­ty Muse­um of Art’s inau­gur­al Art & Film Gala, held last Novem­ber in hon­or of Baldessari and Clint East­wood. Baldessari mix­es a vari­ety of media in his art, includ­ing sculp­ture, paint­ing, print­mak­ing and video. “His work,” writes Elis­a­beth Roark of Grove Art Online, “is char­ac­ter­ized by a con­scious­ness of lan­guage evi­dent in his use of puns, seman­tics based on the struc­tural­ism of Claude Lévi-Strauss and by the incor­po­ra­tion of mate­r­i­al drawn from pop­u­lar cul­ture.” When Joost and Schul­man ask Baldessari how he will be remem­bered 100 years hence, he says dry­ly, “I’m the guy who puts dots over peo­ple’s faces.”

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon. If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Tom Waits Reads Charles Bukows­ki

Tom Waits Makes Com­ic Appear­ance on Fer­n­wood Tonight (1977)

Tom Waits Reads Two Charles Bukows­ki Poems, “The Laugh­ing Heart” and “Nir­vana”

by | Permalink | Comments (4) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (4)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Seabreezn says:

    “oppur­tu­ni­ty” John nailed that one right on the pin head .…Aye , it was great to lis­ten to Tom Wait­es voice as always smooth whiskey..

  • Jolly Slavic says:

    One of my favorites. Grate­ful I was in LA and hap­pened to catch Pure Beau­ty.

  • Stephen Davies says:

    So he’s the one respon­si­ble for all the absurd “con­cep­tu­al” art.
    You do have to admire his chutz­pah — mak­ing that dec­la­ra­tion and then cre­at­ing almost noth­ing but bor­ing art and hav­ing a major exhi­bi­tion called “Pure Beau­ty” with almost noth­ing beau­ti­ful in it. I believe his life’s work is an inten­tion­al joke at the expense of the Art World.
    As for all the awards, the Art Estab­lish­ment has lost a lot of author­i­ty in that area — after all, an instal­la­tion art piece that con­sists mere­ly of a white room and a light bulb auto­mat­i­cal­ly going on and off won numer­ous prizes, was dis­played at the MoMA and pur­chased by the Tate for over 100,000 pounds. And those are the “experts”.
    Cue Baldessar­i’s joke … 😎

  • Stephen Davies says:

    P.S. His dec­la­ra­tion that “I will cre­ate no more bor­ing art” was made in a film that con­sist­ed of him writ­ing the phrase over and over until the ink in the pen ran out.
    He simul­ta­ne­ous­ly bust­ed him­self and clued us in right at the begin­ning …

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.