Monday, July 19, 2010

John Baldessari: total badass

So check this out.  In 1970, John Baldessari decided to formally end his career as a painter.  Apparently he was just over it.  So as part of his Cremation Project, he took all the paintings that he had completed before 1966 and BURNED THEM ALL.  Yes, that's him above, overseeing the fiery elimination of his painterly past.

Some of the ashes were preserved in a book-shaped urn.  The rest of the ashes were used to make cookies.  Seriously:

I've studied lots of art history over the years, but this one slipped by me.   And I've discovered it at a time when I am replacing full hard drives, backing up Terabytes of data, and making everything double and triple redundant.  As if losing my past work will erase me from existence.

JB's epic feat makes my hoarding of zeroes and ones seem so ridiculous.  What if I took my precious hard drives and just baked them into a pie?  Or tied a cinderblock to them and threw them in the Hudson?  Would it be liberating?  I'd probably have some sort of identity crisis -- so much of who I am is what I do.  And it would probably be liberating as hell.  Is there really any point in looking backwards?  Is failure and destruction a necessary part of art? 

Here is what the man himself had to say about it:
         Baldessari/Cremation piece

Hats off to JB for taking one for the team. 

Thanks to Brooklyn Rail, The Huffington Post, and the Daily Serving, from which this was pieced together.

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