Two Cars, One Red, in Different Environments, 1990
Color photograph with acrylic and vinyl paint artist's frames in two parts. 69 1/2 x 87 in. (176.5 x 221 cm).
PROVENANCE Sonnabend Gallery, New York
LITERATURE G. Belli, John Baldessari, Milan, 2000, p. 88 (illustrated)
What I leave out is more important. I want that absence, which creates a kind of anxiety. John Baldessari in Artforum, New York, March 2004 In an interview in 2004 Nicole Davis asked Baldessari for his reason to become an artist. Baldessari responded that he 'always had this idea that doing art was just a masturbatory activity and didn't really help anybody'. However, while working as a young man with kids in an honor camp in California the kids made him realize that "…art has some function in society…" In fact he explained that his understanding of art had not changed since then and that 'it was enough to convince [him] that art did some good somehow,' concluding he just needed a reason 'that wasn't all about myself.' Until now Baldessari has remained faithful to this understanding. His arrangements of photographic montages, appropriations of cinematic images and painterly units describe mental, cultural and demographic identities through his visual landscape. However they remain playful and romantic and allow us to move within our own fantasies and associations. I think it's true that if we look side by side at a painting and a photograph, we tend to right away see the painting as somebody's version of the real world, and with a photograph we tend to suspend disbelief and think it refers in a tangible way to the real world. I think that's one of the reasons why I use it, because I already have people suspending their disbelief. I'm very much attracted to photographs that realtors take of houses for sale, or that insurance adjusters take for accident reports on cars; in other words, where there is no idea to make an artful photograph, just collected information. That attracts me a lot—art as information. I guess after you spend our lifetime thinking about what's beautiful, you get distrustful. You get into this rarefied atmosphere where you want no beauty and no beauty is beautiful! After a while, you learn all the tricks of how to make things beautiful and you get really suspicious. You look at art like a professional gambler looks at a card table, for all the tricks. John Baldessari in interview with Christian Boltanski, "What is Erased", John Baldessari From Life, Nîmes, 2005, pp. 72-75.