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.”

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Comments (4)
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  • 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 . . .

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