John Baldessari: Season 5 Preview (2009)



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How can I catch up on past seasons of Art21?
Past seasons of the Art:21—Art in the Twenty-First Century television series can be found on Hulu, on DVD from Amazon, through iTunes, and from Netflix

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What does Baldessari have to say about the idea of systems?
On the subject of systems in art, Baldessari talk about the liberating potential of systems (in the forthcoming Season 5 book): "Usually, I seem to start I think my emergence in the art world was linked with conceptual art, minimal art, but I never quite totally subscribed to it. I thought it was a little boring. But there were a lot of things I did want to shed, and one of them was being tasteful. The idea of using systems, which was in a lot of that work, appealed to me where I could let this taste emerge as I worked. Because, you know, it’s sort of like toilet paper on your shoe.

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What happens in Baldessari's segment in Systems?
“I’m always interested in things that we don’t call art, and I say why not?” asks John Baldessari. Filmed in his Venice, California studio, the artist consults with his assistant on a color-coded group of maquettes for Raised Eyebrows / Furrowed Foreheads (2008), a series of photographic bas-reliefs.

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Where can I see more of his work before the October premiere?
John Baldessari is represented by Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris. His work can be seen in the exhibition "John Baldessari: A Print Retrospective from the Collections of Jordan D.

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This video is excerpted from the Season 5 episode Systems premiering on Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 10pm (ET) on PBS (check local listings).

Systems features four artists—John Baldessari, Kimsooja, Allan McCollum, and Julie Mehretu—who invent new grammars and logics, finding comfort in some systems while rebelling against others in today’s supercharged, information-based society.

John Baldessari was born in National City, California in 1931; he lives and works in Venice, California. Synthesizing photomontage, painting, and language, Baldessari’s deadpan visual juxtapositions equate images with words and illuminate, confound, and challenge meaning. He upends commonly held expectations of how images function, often by drawing the viewer’s attention to minor details, absences, or the spaces between things. By placing colorful dots over faces, obscuring portions of scenes, or juxtaposing stock photographs with quixotic phrases, he injects humor and dissonance into vernacular imagery. For most of his career John Baldessari has also been a teacher. While some of the strategies he deploys in his work—experimentation, rule-based systems, and working within and against arbitrarily imposed limits to find new solutions to problems—share similarities with pedagogical methods, they are also intrinsic to his particular world view and philosophy.

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