The LA legend touches on the seriously playful sense of humor that characterizes his art making practice. Baldessari is known partly for dot paintings, which distort black-and-white photographs by hiding the characters' faces with bright blots of color. Aside from crafting a hilarious visual punchline, Baldessari directs viewers' attention to the underlying mechanics of the photo.
As he explains to NPR: "I think you really sort of dig beneath the surface and you can see what that photograph is really about, what's going on." By covering up the image we most often recognize and focus on when confronting photography, Baldessari radically expands the possibilities of experiencing and dissecting the image.
In the interview, LACMA director Michael Govan commented on Baldessari's particular brand of art making and the sense of humor it implies: "I would say that John's work possesses something like deep humor," he told NPR. "It's always based on some deep philosophy, consideration, reconsideration, way of seeing. It's never just funny for the sake of being funny."
Baldessari's peculiar sense of humor seems to have charmed the art world en masse; a text-based painting reading "Quality Material- Careful Inspection- Good Craftsmanship- All Combined In An Effort To Give You A Perfect Painting" sold for $4.4 million in 2007.
In other Baldessari news, the 81 year-old artist spoke up this weekend regarding the possibility of a Los Angeles super-museum. Baldessari, a former trustee of MOCA, expressed optimism at the possibility of a partnership with LACMA. "LACMA is an encyclopedic museum, but they are weak when it comes to contemporary art," he told the LA Times. "And this would make their holdings in contemporary art better than the Metropolitan [Museum of Art in New York] in some ways. So that's pretty exciting."
MORE ARTS NEWS:
"Harlem Shake" Slammed For Unlicensed Samples: Two artists claim snippets of their voices were used without permission on viral pop mega-hit "Harlem Shake." Surprise twist: one of the artists is Jayson Musson, aka our all-time hero Hennessy Youngman. (LA Times)
When Bowie Met Burroughs: If the internet existed in 1974 when Rolling Stone published "Beat Godfather Meets Glitter Mainman," it may have exploded. "Literary cachet offered the chance of a deeper, wider and more permanent cultural relevance; Burroughs had an impeccable avant-garde reputation and an image that was at once forbidding and forbidden, remote and culturally potent." (The Guardian)
"The Color Purple" Returns: "Sweeney Todd" director John Boyle is slated to revive the musical "The Color Purple," with a radically different stage vision. "I’m basically going to do it on the platform with chairs and a back wall." (NY Times)
LA Opera Drama: Wagner's opera "The Flying Dutchman" became even more intense when Julie Makerov, soprano Elisabete Matos’ understudy, stepped in to save the day. (LA Times)
Level up. Read THIS and be the most interesting person at your dinner party. Learn more