With every new project John Baldessari does, we grow even more fond of the playful American artist. From his collaboration with Jason Schwartzman on the trailer for Pacific Standard Time which saw his face projected on the side of LACMA to his Giacometti Variations in Milan last year, he continues to push his own personal boundaries while making work that continually manages to turn new people onto art - maybe not so surprising when you consider he chose to teach art in schools and community colleges from 1959 until just a few years ago, despite his work selling for millions of dollars.
His most recent project, The First $100,000 I Ever Made has just been plastered on a billboard in the centre of Chelsea, Manhattan standing next to the High Line - the place for outdoor art in Manhattan. The billboard features a 25ft by 75ft replica of a $100,000 bill which existed for only a short time between December 1934 and January 1935 (and for official use only). Only 42,000 were ever printed.
Baldessari has always used popular culture to question the whole notion of art. This questioning often provoked witty responses, one canvas from 1966 is blank but for the message 'EVERYTHING IS PURGED FROM THIS PAINTING BUT ART, NO IDEAS HAVE ENTERED THIS WORK.'
Eventually the artist turned his back on painting entirely, staging a ceremony in 1970 entitled, The Cremation Project in which all the canvases he had produced between 1953 and 1966 were burned. The ashes of the paintings were then baked into cookies and placed in an urn displaying the birth and death dates of the paintings contained within. Shortly after this episode, Baldessari proclaimed "I will not make any more boring art," a promise he's still adhering to.
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