A couple of weeks ago John Baldessari graced the stage of the Bing Theater in conversation with LACMA’s director, Michael Govan. The talk was part of The Director’s Series, which has previously seen Govan in conversation with, among others, Chris Burden, Jorge Pardo, Robert Irwin, and Jeff Koons (many of which you can see in full in our Screening Room). The next one, by the way, will be with Barbara Kruger. (The event is free but tickets are required. But if you want my advice—if you find that the event is sold out, take a risk and try the standby line on the night of.)
The entire Baldessari conversation was really interesting, giving a brief overview of the artist’s career and whetting appetites for the retrospective of his work that will go on view here next year (and is opening next week at the Tate Modern). One segment that got my mind working was their discussion of his text paintings, which involve Baldessari using text written by someone else and then painted onto the canvas by a sign painter. Their discussion of what makes something “art” only begins here; if you’ve got the time, watch the conversation in full.
Another moment in the talk stuck out at me as well, since not long before Allison had done her series of posts on keeping tabs on the art collection. In her post about the backs of paintings, which contain documentation of everywhere they’ve been, one commenter asked what happens when the back of the painting is filled up. Baldessari clearly wrestled with that same problem at least once, and came up with a worthy solution: