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Former faculty member John Baldessari featured on Art 21 site

Jund 21, 2013
Art 21

By Nicole J. Caruth

100 Artists | John Baldessari

In a new previously unpublished interview with Art21, John Baldessari discusses language and communication, and how years of teaching, from preschool to college level, influenced his work in the studio. Here’s an excerpt:

Art21: How do you feel about people applying the term “conceptualism” to your work?

Baldessari: I think isms—impressionism and so on—are useful for writers when something seems to be brewing and they want to give it some sort of generic title. I think with conceptual or minimal art or the period when I began to emerge, I just got put in that basket—that I was a conceptual artist because I used words and photos. But as time goes on you begin to see the artist more distinctly and realize that the labels don’t really apply. And I think if you asked any artist that you might think of as conceptual now, if he or she would use that term, the answer would be, “No, I’m not a conceptual artist.” Once I said to Claes Oldenberg, “You’re a pop artist.” He said, “No, I’m not; I’m an artist.” And Roy Lichtenstein said the same. I have the same feeling. Conceptualism doesn’t really describe what I do. If somebody wants to use that term, it’s fine, but I’d prefer a word that’s broader and better. I’m really just an artist.

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