Sunday, July 27, 2014

Mungo Thomson | Antenna Baldessari

Mungo Thomson
Antenna Baldessari
New York City, USA: Printed Matter, 2002
2" in diameter
Edition of 500

Thomson pays tribute to his former professor at UCLA in a work made as a fundraiser for Printed Matter and the Art Book Fair.

"Mungo Thomson: John Baldessari had a big effect on me before we ever met or worked together. He was the first artist I looked at, as a very young and struggling art student, and thought that making art could actually be fun, not just gut-wrenching. It was a huge relief. And his work still hits me like that.

To me, John has been able to somehow balance intellectual inquiry with a desire to be entertained. His work is serious, but first it is usually “taking the piss”, as your people like to say. And these are things I take from him. Balancing contradiction, making odd connections, going after “bad ideas”, engaging in exercises as the work, and doing it all with good humor and generosity, above all for himself, was very influential, and very permissive.

Adam Carr: The importance of Baldessari as a tutor, or guide, was exemplified in the work Antenna Baldessari, in which you had foam antenna balls resembling Baldessari manufactured that could subsequently be found adorning car arials around LA. Could you speak about this particular piece?

Mungo Thomson: He has also been very important to an in-between generation of artists and teachers who were important to me, like Jim Welling and Lari Pittman, who were his students at CalArts. And there are also LA artists that I didn’t study with but who studied with John and whose work had an impact on me, like Stephen Prina and Christopher Williams. And there were all my fellow students, legions of us. Basically John has an army, like Jack-in-the-Box and The LA Dodgers (though smaller of course), and those institutions have their $5 foam antenna ball heads driving all over LA. So Antenna Baldessari came out of that."

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