John Baldessari sticks it to the art world

John Baldessari sticks it to the art world

I will not make boring art — John Baldessari’s new London show hilariously parodies an art industry that has lost touch with reality.

John Baldessari’s new London exhibition Pictures & Scripts uses black and white film stills, juxtaposed with imaginary scripts, in a farcical parody of the art industry.

The film stills, which feature cowboys, gangsters and other characters, are cropped and removed of context for added ambiguity. The snippets of dialogue hint at conversations between art world insiders and the absurd perceptions that are cultivated in this self-contained bubble.

Now in his eighties, the Santa Monica artist has been experimenting with text and image since the mid-1960s, famously covering people’s faces in pictures with coloured dots.

An established name in art, Baldessari has never been afraid to lampoon the world he is part of, often resulting in hilarious displays of mockery. In 1967, he took a series of photos with intentionally bad compositions, naming it Wrong.

In 1970, he cremated all the art he made between 1953 and 1966, baking the ashes into cookies and collecting them in a bronze urn shaped like a book. He then created a work stating ‘I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art’.

Baldessari is a prolific artist and has been featured in more than 200 solo exhibitions and over 1000 group exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe. Who better than to tell his story than Tom Waits, who narrates this lovely short film about Baldessari’s work.

Pictures & Scripts is being displayed at the Marian Goodman Gallery, London, until 25 April.