Well, it appears obvious now that artist John Baldessari is one creatively strange dude. But hey, at least his documentary portrait followed suite. Baldessari’s portrait utilized narration and scene/image cutting in order to show the best portrayal of who Baldessari is, and what his art has come to represent.
The narration throughout the 6 minute piece was one of the main strategies that really worked to tell the story of how Baldessari is an ordinary man, who just happens to be a famous artist. The way narration and scene/image cutting worked together was especially phenominal because when Tom Waits would say “This is John Baldessari’s dog, Giotto…This is John Baldessari’s desk… This is John Baldessari’s pencil… This is John Baldessari’s coffee maker” as the image of the object appears, it conveys to the audience that Baldessari is an ordinary guy. It also shows how something so mundane can be turned into a piece of art through perspective and story telling – much like the work Baldessari is most famous for: his dots. Baldessari said that he put dots over the faces of the people in his pictures because it somehow leveled the playing field. Through these shots of the desk, pencil, dog, and coffee maker, Baldessari and Waits have leveled the playing field to their audience. They’ve reached out to invite the audience to know inside Baldessari’s head.
Additionally, the narration allowed for Waits and Baldessari to have a conversation, but with scene cuts, the overlay of Waits stating something about Baldessari in voice over, followed up with Baldessari agreeing in the video made the narration even more comical and odd.
So my question becomes: Does this upbeat video portrayal truly capture John Baldessari’s career and life? Does it need a deeper element of his struggles throughout his lifetime? Or is it simply okay to make it just seem all exciting and genius?\