Spotlight: John Baldessari

John Baldessari, <em>Pollock&#x2F;Benton: Routine</em>, 2016
John Baldessari, Pollock/Benton: Routine, 2016

John Baldessari: Pollock/Benton is currently on view at Marian Goodman Gallery, New York. The works are thought-provoking and as Martin Engler wrote in On Concept Art and Metaphors: Painting after the end of Painting, “For Baldessari meaning arises when two things come together, whether words or image…and something new is created.”

The principle of connecting is manifested in every aspect of John Baldessari’s thinking. Below are excerpts from our conversation.

Jackson Pollock and Thomas Hart Benton

The idea for the show came from Jackson Pollock. I see him as a game changer. Everything changed after Jackson Pollock. Thomas Hart Benton was his teacher.

Images and Words

I always think of images and words together. They are part of the same process. I often think of synonyms, for example the words I worked with for this show, they all mean something that is reliable and dependable.

The Work and the Viewer

The works in this show have a blank white rectangle. The viewer can think of whatever he or she wants that it is in there. I like leaving out information, not giving the whole picture. To make it more fun, like a puzzle.

Fragments and Whole

It is very hard to think about parts and whole. I may look for example at somebody’s shoes and may think who is wearing this shoe, who made it? Everything is related in the world.

Series of Works

I always think of a series of works, rather than just one work. I think how each work in the series relates to what I want to talk about. Work comes out of work. All my works are connected. They build on each other.

At the end of my conversation with John Baldessari, I asked him for a self-portrait. It was about bringing together and connecting.

A Self-Portrait

I am like a chef who is cooking. He is inspired and he combines ingredients.

John Baldessari: Pollock/Benton, Marian Goodman Gallery, 24 West 57th street, New York, NY 10019. On view through December 23, 2016.

The transcribed text has been edited for length and clarity.

Lilia Ziamou is a visual artist based in New York

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