Art Fag City at The L Magazine: Baldessari Knows

by Paddy Johnson on December 10, 2010 · 3 comments The L Magazine

This week at The L Magazine I discuss John Baldessari’s solo show at The Met. The teaser,

There are a lot of reasons to visit Pure Beauty, the John Baldessari retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through January 9), but viewing famous pieces like “I Am Making Art” (1971) in the flesh isn’t one of them. It looks almost exactly like it does on YouTube—a black-and-white video of Baldessari taking various poses as he repeats the work’s title—only displayed on a TV monitor. These days the piece seems almost incomplete without all the YouTube response videos.

Needless to say, locating art’s aura isn’t particularly important to Baldessari’s work. It’s not filled with its own self-importance and mostly seeks to engage the viewer in the mechanics of what they see. It helps that he’s funny too. These characteristics were visible in most of the works on show in an exhibition perhaps best described as a 50-year investigation into how to make, select and view art.

To read the full piece click here.


hypothete December 12, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Loved the show. When I was in NY in November, I managed to see most of the exhibit.Baldessari’s work straddles that spot on the border between conceptual art and openness to the public that art could really stand a lot more of these days. Recently I was discussing the exhibit with two other dumpers that were in town for IRL and they both said that the artwork has been a big influence on their image development since then.

The work that had the biggest effect on me was “Baldessari Sings LeWitt,” because of how brave and elegant it is. The video iss a confrontation of a high art concept that’s humorous and anyone can get. tldr; new art hero.

Anonymous December 13, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Yeah, when I saw the show last year at the Tate I thought he must clearly be the most influential artist to new contemporary art. I backed away from that statement a little since then, but I still mostly believe it. His work is very much about defining an artistic practice and bringing that to a public. Art reaches a larger public than it used to, so his work is very much relevant to artists.

Metal Wall Art December 22, 2010 at 4:45 pm

What is missing in classrooms is the lack of teacher knowledge of the benefits of maintaining an art- based curriculum. Teachers “have very little understanding of the arts as disciplines of study.

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