WOW! – Work of the Week – John Baldessari – Zorro (Two Gestures and One Mark)



John Baldessari
Zorro (Two gestures One Mark)
1998
Offset lithograph with screenprint and offset flip book
Sheet: 10 x 8 in.
Book: 3 7/8 x 5 7/8 in.
Edition of 60
Pencil signed and numbered


About the work:

John Baldessari pledged, in a 1970 groundbreaking work “I will not make anymore boring art.” This pledge was addressed to both his viewers but also to himself. He has remained true to his word, never shying away from new media, allowing his works to always retain a freshness and relevance that many younger artists struggle to match. Through his experimentations, he became responsible for the way many artists use appropriation in their work today. Kruger, Sherman and Salle are among the many that cite him as an influence. He is a giant of contemporary art.

This week’s Work of the Week! WOW! is Baldessari’s Zorro (Two Gestures and One Mark).

Zorro (Two Gestures and One Mark) is a lithograph with screenprinting accompanied by an artist flip book without commentary. The combination of the two brings to life trademark Hollywood imagery.

Baldessari is best known for works that blend photographic materials which are taken out of their original context and rearranged. He has spent his entire life living and working in California so it is not surprising that much of his works incorporate Hollywood film stills and other cinematic references. This particular piece features actors Jean-Paul Belmondo and Humphrey Bogart and the character Zorro.

This work requires the participation of the viewer, to take the book and flip it, which in turn reanimates the gestures of Humphrey Bogart and Jean-Paul Belmondo from movie stills. It is not a static piece.

The end result of flipping through the book is the actual artwork of art in which we see the imagery of Belmondo smoking a cigarette, and rubbing his lips with his thumb, Humphrey Bogart laughing before slowly becoming serious, and Zorro marking the Z on a wall with his sword.

Thus the work becomes two-part. The genius of the work is that it is a combination of film stills that the viewer has to flip through the book to get to the end result image, which is the artwork itself. A remarkably smart conceptual piece!

WOW! – Work of the Week – John Baldessari – Money with Space Between





John Baldessari
Money with Space Between
1994
Lithograph and screenprint on 2 panels
48 x 22 in. each
Edition of 45
Pencil signed and numbered
About the work:
John Baldessari is often endearingly referred to as “the guy that puts dots over people’s faces.” He is considered the godfather of conceptualism, having made a career out of defying expectations. Over 50 years, his inquisitive approach to making art has expanded the parameters of what we consider to be “art.” His work certainly succeeds in making people stop, look and reflect rather than simply taking it in passively. His sharp insights into the nature of perception and relationships between images are engaging, highlighted by his trademark deadpan humor.
Baldessari pledged, in a 1970 groundbreaking work “I will not make anymore boring art.” This pledge was addressed to both his viewers but also to himself. He has remained true to his word, never shying away from new media, allowing his works to always retain a freshness and relevance that many younger artists struggle to match. Through his experimentations, he became responsible for the way many artists use appropriation in their work today. Kruger, Sherman and Salle are among the many that cite him as an influence. He is a giant of contemporary art.
This week’s Work of the Week! WOW! is named Money with Space Between.
Baldessari has spent his entire life living and working in California. It is therefore not surprising that much of his works incorporate Hollywood film stills and other cinematic imagery. The artist never addresses the source of his images, considering the copy itself the true source. Money with Space Between has all the visual and narrative qualities of a film still – an action is taking place between two men dressed in suits, their faces obscured by Baldessari’s famous dots.
Baldessari came upon colored stickers on produce at grocery stores and found the simple method of demarkation and concealment fascinating. The dots hide from view areas of interest and force the viewer to refocus their attention on other elements. In placing dots over the faces of the two men in Money with Space Between, the action that taking place – an exchange of money – becomes the focal point. Through eliminating all additional information, such as the expressions on the protagonist’s faces, Baldessari gives the viewer the freedom to interpret the situation and make their own assumptions.
Despite that the dots can be challenging or startling to the viewer, this is not a work that requires deep reflection. It is simple and straightforward. The title says it all: money with space between. What is complex about this work is the presentation. There are specific instructions on how to frame the piece, provided by artist. Both panels are framed separately. The top and bottom margins are 2 1/2 inches wide, the left margin on panel A (the left panel), is 1 1/2 inches wide, and the right margin 1/2 an inch wide. Conversely, panel B is a mirror opposite, the left margin being 1/2 inches and the right margin 1 1/2 inches. The frame itself is specified to be a black matte finish, with the face measuring 3/4 in, and 2 inches deep. The space between the two sheets (not the frames) is to measure 4 1/2 inches. When looking at the work as a whole, the specifications of the framework create an illusion of it being one whole piece, as opposed to two separate panels.
In a 2013 interview with David Salle, Baldessari said: “I go back and forth between wanting to be abundantly simple and maddeningly complex. I always compare what I do to the work of a mystery writer—like, you don’t want to know the end of the book right away. What a good writer does is give you false clues. You go here, no, that’s not right; you go here, no, that’s not right, and then … I much prefer that kind of game. But then you get tired of yourself and you just want to be forthright.” In Money with Space Between Baldessari manages to capture both simplicity and complexity in a manner that is truly unique to him.

WOW! – Work of the Week – John Baldessari – I Saw It





John Baldessari
I Saw It
1997
Lithograph
17 3/8 x 14 3/8 in.
Edition of 100
Pencil signed, dated and numbered

About the work:

‘Why not give people what they understand most, which is the written word and the photograph.’ John Baldessari

For decades, John Baldessari has pioneered “conceptual art,” an art where it’s the idea that matters over the traditional cannons of aesthetics, techniques and materials. A chief claim of conceptualism is that skill is irrelevant and the idea from the artist’s head becomes art in the mind of the viewers as they try to figure out what they are seeing. The style is accepted as the extreme end of the highly intellectual avant-garde movement, which encompasses Cubism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism and Pop.

As one of the most influential artist’s working today, Baldessari has successfully removed his own hand from his works in order to couple text with pre-existing images. His commercial, static style allows the unornamented text and appropriated image to impact the viewer without distraction. Images and texts behave in similar ways, both using formulas to convey their messages. The juxtaposition of both narratives in Baldessari’s work acts as a dual and complimentary means of communication, very similar to the methods used in the press. However, contrary to the press, Baldessari’s unique interplay between two kinds of information is amusing, often creating riddles or jokes. 

This week’s Work of the Week! WOW! is I Saw It, which is a prime example of Baldessari’s tongue-in-cheek humor. 

In this work, the artist pairs the image of a light fixture with the all caps words “I SAW IT.” The image is not an illustration of the text below it. The text is instead used to make the full range of the image available to the viewer. It is only upon reading the text that the light fixture loses its common identity and function to become a UFO. The humor in Baldessari’s work is a result of the subjection of ordinary everyday objects which take on unexpected meanings and messages. 

John Baldessari is able to look beyond what is there, which opens the possibility for others to see things they normally wouldn’t. He avoids “good taste” and allows us to smile, if not laugh, through providing a new context. Just as the best humor is based on the unpredictable, the purpose of art, Baldessari has said, is to keep us “perpetually off-balance.”

Over the course of his career, Baldessari has been challenging audiences to reconsider the nature of art, with wit, humor and a captivating visual sense. And although he has played a crucial role in such major movements as conceptual art and appropriation art, perhaps his greatest contribution is “leveling the playing field,” encouraging viewers to take an active role in the construction of meaning.

WOW – Work Of the Week – John Baldessari “Person On Horse And Person Falling From Horse (With Audience)”

Intersection Series (Person On Horse Person Falling From Horse with Audience) stock

JOHN BALDESSARI
Person On Horse And Person Falling From Horse (With Audience)
2002
Chromogenic print on archival paper
15 1/2 x 14 1/2 in.
Edition of 150

Signed, dated and numbered in ink

About This Work:

Known as the Godfather of Conceptual Art, John Baldessari has defied formalist categories by working in a variety of media — creating films, videotapes, prints, photographs, texts, drawings, and multiple combinations of these. In his use of media imagery, Baldessari is a pioneer “image appropriator”, and as such has had a profound impact on post-modern art production.

Born on June 17, 1931 in National City, CA, John Baldessari has been instrumental in the West Coast art scene. His artwork has influenced a generation of conceptual artists like Cindy Sherman, Barbara Kruger, David Salle and many other younger artists.

He may be best known as the artist that “Put dots over people’s faces”, but through his diverse practice that includes paintings, sculpture, and installations, the artist shaped the Conceptual Art landscape. By blending photography, painting, and text, Baldessari’s work examined the plastic nature of artistic media while offering commentary on our contemporary culture.

What John Baldessari does, is he fuses photography, montage, painting and text to create complex compositions that explore the several interpretations of cultural iconography. He sources his wide range imagery from the larger visual world, primarily finding inspiration in advertising and film.

This work, Person On Horse And Person Falling From Horse (With Audience), from the Intersection Series, is a perfect example of the manner in which Baldessari deconstructs found images of action and perception stereotypes of the mass media.

This series features contrasting collaged images enclosed in rectangles and juxtaposed, each one with a different theme and title. The superposition of several image sections results in a complete “cinematic” sequence: under the eyes of two applauding spectators a cowboy falls from his horse, while the Indians remains firmly in power.

In order to subvert common associations, John Baldessari brings one’s attention to minute details, absurd juxtapositions, and obscured or fragmented portions of such imagery. His artistic process focuses on the perception and interpretation of visual elements and text, while often employing irony to make playful assertions about how meanings and interpretations are formed. 

The Intersection Series work blends photographic materials such as these film stills, which Baldessari takes out of their original context, and rearranges their form.

We have also attached a link to a video Called the “History of John Baldessari”.

It is a 5 minute video narrated by muscian Tom Waits.

It is very entertaining, informative, and very funny!!! 

Please have a look and enjoy!  

WOW! – Work of the Week 7/27/15

John Baldessari, Two Unfinished Letters

Two Unfinished LettersJohn Baldessari
Two Unfinished Letters
1992-93
Screenprint and lithograph on Arches 88 paper with slight deckle
33 1/2 x 21 in.
Edition of 80
This piece is signed and numbered in ink.

About This Work:

John Baldessari makes art that forces people to think. He presents the viewers with enigmatic compositions that suggest manifold interpretations but dictate none. Perhaps his most consistent objective over a half-century of work has been his desire to redirect ways of seeing, challenge how we look at the world, by proposing unexpected scenes or spotlighting the mundane and underrecognized.

In Two Unfinished Letters, John Baldessari depicts eight movies scenes where people are holding pieces of paper, bringing our attention to the various ways people both handle and read letters. Something that more often than not goes unnoticed, but has been integral in the way we communicate.


About John Baldessari:

Throughout his career, John Baldessari has defied formalist categories by working in a variety of media—creating films, videotapes, prints, photographs, texts, drawings, and multiple combinations of these. In his use of media imagery, Baldessari is a pioneer “image appropriator,” and as such has had a profound impact on post-modern art production. 

Born in 1931, John Baldessari studied art, literature, and art history at San Diego State College and the University of California, Berkeley.  Baldessari initially studied to be an art critic at the University of California, Berkeley during the mid 1950s, but growing dissatisfied with his studies, he turned to painting. Inspired by Dada and Surrealist literary and visual ideas, he began incorporating photographs, notes, texts, and fragments of conversation into his paintings. Baldessari remains fundamentally interested in de-mystifying artistic processes, and uses video to record his performances, which function as “deconstruction experiments.” These illustrative exercises target prevailing assumptions about art and artists, focusing on the perception, language, and interpretation of artistic images.  

Allowing pop-cultural artifacts to function as “information,” as opposed to “form,” Baldessari’s works represented a radical departure from, and often a direct critique of, the modernist sensibility that dominated painting for decades.