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John Baldessari: Recycling Images | Art21 "Exclusive"

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    John Baldessari: Recycling Images
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    [On poster: "Learn to read"]
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    My early assistants would throw out some paper and I would take it out of the trash and say,
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    "Why are you throwing this away? You can use it."
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    When I was going to school, you had to write on both sides of the paper to save paper.
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    So yeah, I'm a pack rat. Like, "Ah, I could use that somehow."
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    I saw a lot of that in India, how people there will recycle anything
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    And make something new out of it. You see it a lot in folk art.
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    I probably got my... My first lesson probably came from Schwitters.
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    You know, he was picking up stuff out of the street. And I would pick up photographs from the street.
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    Well, I think if somebody wanted to borrow some imagery I was using, I would be flattered.
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    Ha! Here's one I had worked on.
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    I really just don't think imageries should be owned, including my own.
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    If it's part of our world, it's like owning words. How could you own words? I mean, it's stuff to use.
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    She was retouched. Look... [chuckles]
John Baldessari: Recycling Images | Art21 "Exclusive"

Episode #093: While sifting through boxes of film stills in his Santa Monica studio, artist John Baldessari talks about being a pack rat and discusses his attitude towards appropriating images.

Synthesizing photomontage, painting, and language, Baldessari's deadpan visual juxtapositions equate images with words and illuminate, confound, and challenge meaning. He upends commonly held expectations of how images function, often by drawing the viewers attention to minor details, absences, or the spaces between things.

Learn more about John Baldessari:

VIDEO | Producer: 
Wesley Miller & 
Nick Ravich

. Interview: 
Susan Sollins

. Camera: 
Bob Elfstrom. Sound: Ray Day. Editor: Lizzie Donahue & 
Paulo Padilha. 

Artwork Courtesy: 
John Baldessari.

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