John Baldessari and respecting one’s audience

John Baldessari, Beethoven's Trumpet (With Ear), Opus 127 2007 Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York © John Baldessari Resin, fibreglass, bronze, aluminuim and electronics

The American artist John Baldessari, in a podcast from Tate Modern, states that he acknowledes his audience when making his artwork. His opinion on this developed through his need to communicate with his students; he needed to find ways to hold their attention. In his artist talk he says that he feels it is his job to provide enough “meat” for a more intellectual audience, but also to be able to connect with the average viewer; “I can’t control who will be looking at the work.”

Famous for sometimes poking fun at the artworld, here’s Baldessari in a version of I’m Making Art circa 1971.


Trusting your instincts

Jonathan Adler interior
Jonathan Adler interior

If Jonathan Adler had listened to his pottery professor at art school, he would have quit being an artist and got a job as a lawyer. Luckily for us, he didn’t take her advice. Instead, he parlayed his wacky and shameless ideas into a hugely successful design career.

Everyone else may have already seen this, but since I don’t have cable, I just discovered Adler and his book My Prescription for Anti-Depressive Living in the library on the weekend. Along with images of his delicious and uplifting designs, he peppers humorous anecdotes and strong opinions throughout the book. Below is an excerpt with Adler’s take on the contemporary artworld today, and his philosophy on design.

“When I look at the artworld today, I get pretty depressed. I think that somewhere along the way, people were tricked into believing that art has to be incomprehensible and skill-free and ugly. I totally reject that idea. I want my work to be communicative and beautiful and, I hope, impactful on an emotional level before an intellectual level.”

Jonathan and his talented window-dresser husband live happily together with their dog, Liberace.

The illustrated woman

Maira Kalman
Maira Kalman

In her heart-warming book, The Principles of Uncertainty, Maira Kalman reveals emotional depth and a quirky wit. In an excerpt posted on the New York times website, she suggests ways to ponder the pursuit of happiness.

An illustrator, author, and designer, Kalman is widely known and loved for her children’s books such as Ooh La La, Max in Love, and her brilliant illustrated update of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. Hear Maira talk about her life and work in a video from the public speaking series Ted Talks:

Aganetha Dyck: The Bees and I

Hive Scan, Aganetha and Richard Dyck

Aganetha Dyck‘s exhibition Collaborations on now at the Burnaby Art Gallery is the result of her ongoing dialogue with bees. Her recent Hive Scans were created with the help of her son and his laptop computer. The printed results are very painterly, with blurring stripes that remind me of smeared paint, but which are actually the traces of bees in motion while the scan takes place.  These images are very tactile, capturing marks of pollen, honey, and wax left by the bees on the surface of the scanner.

Dyck often takes objects she finds or constructs, and places them in the hive during the bees’ active summer months. Check out her wax-encrusted braille tablets and her striking back-lit manufactured metal plates of text, all of which are a poignant reference to communication between humans and bees.