the line between reality is my door
by agnes s.
American artist John Baldessari rose to prominence in the late 1960s combining Pop Art’s use of imagery from the mass media with Conceptual Art’s use of language to create a unique body of work that has become a hallmark of postmodern art. Early in his career, Baldessari began incorporating images and texts in his photo-based art. He appropriated pictures from advertising and movie stills, juxtaposing, editing, and cropping them in conjunction with written texts. His resulting montages of photography and language often counter the narrative associations suggested by the isolated scenes and offers a greater plurality of meanings. The layered, often humorous compositions carry disparate connotations, underscoring how relative meaning can be.
“I see a lot of it. For me it’s not particular. I just like good art when I see it. Doesn’t matter where I see it. That’s what excites me. It can happen any place. Sometimes, it’s done by an artist I really hate. That’s a real falsity; there is no connection between the artist and the work.”
“There are certain artists that interest me. Not so much in what they’re doing now, but why there’s attention given to them at a particular time. For example, in 1985 I did a two-person show in Chicago with Gerhard Richter. Neither of us sold anything, which was not unusual back then, but the paintings he had in the show were the candle paintings, which are now $23 million each. I find that so puzzling. What was wrong with them then? Plus, he was doing pretty much the same art when I came across him in the late ‘60s. He didn’t have much of a following.”
“Well, I think it’s just that it mirrors the real world, but it’s in another place. It’s always set up. And, when it gets really confusing, especially like when I’m traveling some place and watching a movie and a lot of locations are around Santa Monica, and then you say, “How can this be a movie,” because I live there. The worst it ever got, was when I was married, and I was living up the street, and I came down here to my studio and there were movie trucks all over. In the parking lot out there they had some chairs set up and it was Jack Nicholson and Mike Nichols. They were doing this shot in Chinatown, and I said, “Pardon me, can I get into my studio?” I’m thinking, “Okay so, the line between reality is my door.”
full interview by Nicole Davis via artnet