In Still Life 2001-2010 invites you to create your own still life by arranging any or all of the 38 objects onscreen.
“When someone completes their own still life using In Still Life 2001-2010 it becomes their own artwork,” says artist John Baldessari. “It’s not mine. It’s theirs. Still lifes are about the fleeting things in life. Each object has a symbolic meaning attached to it. My interest in still lifes goes back to beginning art courses and having to endlessly paint from them. There was always a room where the instructors stored all the props. And the one prop I hated was the cow skull, which an old instructor of mine, a Georgia O’Keeffe fan, used to always trot out. But of course the typical objects are things like the guitar, the wine bottle, the loaf of bread, which are not so interesting. Even now it’s very hard for me to look at one of those typical Braque or Picasso still lifes and not want to rearrange it! I just want to make it a little more upbeat, a little more dynamic and less static. I chose Banquet Still Life(1667) for the original In Still Life because I wanted to use a typical 17th-century Dutch still life. The lobster is the most important object in the painting. I’m just anticipating everyone trying to make the lobster dance.”
It seemed daunting -- a small nonprofit dedicated to cheering up hospitals getting one of the leading figures in modern art to donate some work to its cause.
It turned out to be easier than they thought.
"We sent a proposal to Jeff and he went for it," Sebastian explained.
They were hoping for a work or two to lend a cheery atmosphere to a CT-scan room at Advocate Hope Children's Hospital in Chicago.
Instead, the results were stunning.
"He completely transformed the room," Sebastian said.
The stark white walls of the previously sterile room were painted pink, blue and yellow. A smaller version of "Hanging Heart" is suspended from the ceiling. A painting called "Donkey" covers one wall. Koons' iconic "Balloon Dog" is attached to another wall. The CT-scan machine itself is covered with decals of Koons' "Monkeys," grinning cartoon simians. YDRRxArt
"Why do critics insist on comparing one artist with another? More to the point -- why do I do it so obsessively? I have just published a review of two artists showing at this year's Edinburgh festival. Although Martin Creed and Richard Wright are both showing in the same city at its most crowded cultural season, that does not make them competitors -- surely? Well, that's how I see them. My article today sets up a rivalry, and seems to assume that to love Wright as I do, it is necessary to disparage Creed."
The transformation and institutionalization of the art world over the last few decades, to be sure, is hardly different. Many artists I know, including myself, have awoken hungover on its well-manicured lawn, littered with Murakamis and MFAs, tended and fertilized by the pre-recession boom. There we go, herded from exhibition to exhibition to museum show, onward and upward as we climb the ladder toward art world heaven.