Category: John Baldessari

Hammer shares biennial details, including Venice Beach free-for-all

November 17, 2011 | 10:50 am


Biennials can be large, messy, expensive and controversial undertakings for museums that attempt them, but it's too late for the Hammer to turn back now. Ramping up for the debut of its new biennial, the museum confirmed key details about the project, including the name, "Made in L.A.", and a run date of June 3 through Sept. 2, 2012.

"Whether people love or hate them, biennials are very much anticipated, desired and needed by the artistic community," Hammer Museum director Ann Philbin told Culture Monster last year when word of its biennial, done in partnership with LAX Art, first circulated. "They are our versions of the Oscars or Emmys."

Unlike the well-known Whitney Biennial, this one has a regional focus: about 60 artists, mainly emerging or lesser-known, working in the L.A. area. Names will be released by March. The exhibition-event will take place at a few venues across the city: the Hammer in Westwood, LAX Art in Culver City and the L.A. Municipal Art Gallery at Barnsdall Art Park, home to Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House. It will be sponsored by Wells Fargo.

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LACMA kicks off gala series with Clint Eastwood, John Baldessari

November 6, 2011 |  1:41 pm


On Saturday evening, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art threw itself a party that organizers hope will be the start of an annual tradition. "Art + Film" was LACMA's first major fundraising gala of its kind, and it drew the sort of celebrity wattage that one normally associates with award shows and movie premieres. 

LACMA joins a handful of other major museums that host annual, star-studded fundraising galas, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York as well as the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Hammer Museum in L.A.

"Art + Film," was intended as a tribute to the overlapping worlds of cinema and the visual arts, though judging by the attendance roster the emphasis was more on the former than the latter. The party was held in the main LACMA courtyard, where a massive heated tent served as the main dining area.

Michael Govan, the director of LACMA, said in a brief interview that the event was expected to raise about $3 million for the museum. The black-tie dinner was attended by approximately 500 guests, including the two honorees, Clint Eastwood and John Baldessari.

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John Baldessari: Thoughts on street art and graffiti [Video]

October 11, 2011 | 12:15 pm


Last week, artist John Baldessari joined Times art critic Christopher Knight for a public talk at the Hammer Museum. At one point, the conversation turned to street art and graffiti, and their place in the overall cultural hierarchy.

Baldessari discussed the recent exhibition "Art in the Streets" at the Museum of Contemporary Art. "It brought people into the museum who had never been there before, at a very young age level," he said. "And they all had cameras."

He continued: "Some good artists have come out of it. Once it gets into a museum, it becomes something else. I think street art is basically anarchic."

In our final clip from last week's conversation, Baldessari talks about the culture of street art and its complicated relationship to the museum world.

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John Baldessari: How the L.A. art scene has changed [Video]

October 10, 2011 | 11:56 am


The career of artist John Baldessari spans nearly 50 years, intersecting with the rise of the Southern California art scene that took off during the postwar period.

During his long career, Baldessari has witnessed tremendous changes in the local cultural landscape, mostly for the better but sometimes for the worse. The artist appeared recently with Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight at the Hammer Museum, where he described the "roller-coaster" ride that has been the L.A. art world.

Here's a video clip from the conversation, in which Baldessari talks about the effect of CalArts, as well as money's effect on art-making ...

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John Baldessari: 'Ugly' L.A. is inspirational [Video]

October 8, 2011 |  8:02 am


The art of John Baldessari is deeply rooted in Los Angeles. The city plays itself in many of his creations and the artist has depicted it as a playful, energetic, surreal and thriving metropolis.

But that doesn't mean Baldessari thinks L.A. is a beautiful city. Quite the contrary, in fact. In his Tuesday appearance at the Hammer Museum with Times art critic Christopher Knight, the artist made it clear that his adopted hometown is not much to look at.

"I live here because L.A. is ugly... If I lived in a great beautiful city, why would I do art?" he said. "I always have to be slightly angry to do art and L.A. provides that."

Here's a clip from Tuesday's conversation, in which Baldessari explains how L.A. inspires him...

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John Baldessari: Teaching at CalArts [Video]

October 7, 2011 |  1:30 pm

John Baldessari and early CalArts students
It's hard to imagine the L.A. art scene today without CalArts -- or its downtown satellite, REDCAT. But when John Baldessari was starting his career as an artist, the institution was still young and finding its way.

During his recent conversation at the Hammer Museum, Baldessari spoke about his years teaching at CalArts, emphasizing the laid-back, anti-authoritarian style that prevailed at the school during its early years. There were "no grades, no curriculum," and even a class in joint-rolling, he said. "If you liked structure in your life, that was not the place to go."

Baldessari began teaching at CalArts in the early '70s, having moved from the San Diego area. He would go on to become one of the top conceptual artists in the world, focusing on mixed-media creations that deconstructed artistic dogma of all kinds.

Here's a clip of Baldessari speaking with Times art critic Christopher Knight about his CalArts years ...

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John Baldessari: Early years in Southern California [video]

October 6, 2011 |  7:30 pm


On Tuesday evening, John Baldessari joined Times art critic Christopher Knight at the Hammer Museum for a public conversation about his art and career.

During the next few days, we'll be posting video highlights from the discussion here on Culture Monster. In the first clip, which you can view after the jump, Baldessari talks about growing up and starting his career in National City, near San Diego.

"I thought my life would be just, like, teaching public schools to support myself -- you know, painting when I could on weekends," he explained. "I thought that would pretty much be it."

Of course, there was much more to come, though he didn't know it at the time. Today, Baldessari is considered to be among the top-ranking conceptual artists in the world. His creations cover photography, video, installation -- but mostly the gray areas in between where the different forms blend together into hybrids.

Tuesday's talk, part of the Hammer Conversations series, was tied to the recent launch of Pacific Standard Time, the regionwide series of exhibitions sponsored by the Getty focusing on the Southern California art scene from 1945 to 1980.

Here's our first clip from our talk with John Baldessari...

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John Baldessari, Christopher Knight tonight at Hammer Museum

October 4, 2011 | 12:00 pm


This evening, artist John Baldessari will appear at the Hammer Museum to discuss his art, career and the L.A. cultural scene with Times art critic Christopher Knight. The discussion, which is free and open to the public, is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

Baldessari, 80, is regarded as one of the leading conceptual artists of his generation. His work is featured prominently in Pacific Standard Time, the series of exhibitions sponsored by the Getty that addresses the rise of art in Southern California from 1945 to 1980.

A retrospective of his work, "John Baldessari: Pure Beauty," ran at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art last year before moving to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Baldessari's art encompasses various media, including photography, video, painting and text-based creations. The artist was born near San Diego and has spent much of his career working in Southern California.

Tuesday's discussion is part of the Hammer Conversations series. The museum said that Hammer members receive priority seating, subject to availability. Parking at the museum is $3 after 6 p.m.


Art review: 'John Baldessari: Pure Beauty' @ LACMA

From Baldessari to Teske, top 20 Pacific Standard Time artists

-- David Ng

Photo: John Baldessari. Credit: LACMA

From Baldessari to Teske, top 20 Pacific Standard Time artists

September 18, 2011 | 10:00 am

Culture Monster has obtained a list of the most popular artists appearing in the mega-exhibition-event Pacific Standard Time, judging by the number of shows in which they appear.

The top two artists, Baldessari (with 11 shows) and Ruscha (with 10) are no surprise. Do any names on the list--or not on the list--surprise you? 

The 20 Most Popular Pacific Standard Time Artists

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Anthony Kiedis takes Ed Ruscha for a drive on Sunset Strip

September 12, 2011 |  2:00 pm

One more thing you probably don't know about Anthony Kiedis, the unpredictable frontman for the Red Hot Chili Peppers: He's a fan of artist Ed Ruscha.

Kiedis takes the driver's seat in a new TBWA\Chiat\Day\LA ad, the first video in a major campaign to promote Pacific Standard Time, the museum-fest that officially kicks off Oct. 1 and is designed to celebrate pioneering local artists like Ruscha.

The L.A. singer takes the L.A. artist on a spin through their sprawling hometown as they talk about art (including one "If" song by the Chili Peppers and one "So" painting by Ruscha). Sections of the Sunset Strip, which Ruscha famously photographed in 1966, stream by in the background.

The Hollywood sign also looms large, and it's not the only lettering you will see. The spot also shows snippets from their dialogue set against the city landscape in the style of Ruscha's famous word paintings. Apparently Ruscha also has some fans at Chiat\Day who appreciate his attention to typeface as an art form. (Whether the artist considers this appreciation -- or more imitation -- would be interesting to know.)

A three-minute version of the video is featured on the new Pacific Standard Time website, which also has a map and calendar to help you plan your museum visits. A 30-second version, below, appears on and will run in Laemmle Theatres starting in November.

Word is the next spot in the series will pair actor Jason Schwartzman and artist John Baldessari.

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