John Baldessari

John Baldessari

Art is who I am

“I never liked to be called a Los Angeles artist.” Meet conceptual artist John Baldessari, who many describe as a cultural symbol and the grandmaster of the Los Angeles art scene. “My perception of the city is very ugly. But that’s attractive too. It’s very seductive.”

In this interview John Baldessari reflects upon his long artistic career, his beginning and cultural influences, and why in the 1960’s he gave up painting for mixing the narrative potential of photographic images with the associative power of language.

Just before his 85th birthday, Baldessari here defends the cultural and social importance of art. “It seems to be a nutritional need for the public. We build museums, people go there with their kids. The bad thing is the connection with money now. They look at a Rembrandt and ask how much it costs. We are looking at art with the wrong eyes and values.”

John Anthony Baldessari (b. 1931) is an American conceptual artist, who lives and works in Santa Monica and Venice, California. In his career stretching over six decades he has been exhibited in more than 200 solo shows. His works are part of major public and private collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. His work is said to have influenced a number of internationally renowned artists such as Cindy Sherman, Catherine Opie, Barbara Kruger and Tony Oursler.

John Baldessari was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner in his studio in Venice, Los Angeles in January 2016.

Camera: Jakob Solbakken
Edited by: Klaus Elmer
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2016

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