Woman Feeding Man an Apple Person with Guitar Stonehenge

"The godfather of conceptual art," John Baldessari is widely considered a historical giant in the contemporary art world, known for rearranging found images and texts - forcing one to wonder how, and what exactly, the images are communicating.

Appropriately, when Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman of Supermarché (the pair behind 2010’s much buzzed about documentary, Catfish) set out to create a small look into John Baldessari’s life and career, they turned the conventional profile documentary format on its head. Instead, Baldessari’s immense career has been compressed into six amazing (and somewhat disorienting) minutes, as Joost and Schulman jump between mundane images of Baldessari’s everyday life, jumbled narrative, and a playful back-and-forth between Baldessari and the story’s faceless narrator - the deep grizzled voice of Tom Waits (requested specifically by Baldessari).

The film, from start to finish, is a playful and clever sendup to the self-aware artist’s signature tongue-in-cheek tone, and it’s more than worth its short six minutes of play time. I love the jumping details of Baldessari’s life - the shots of pencils, the peep holes, the “this is John Baldessari waving goodbye.”

- Maggie

                           Ask a Block Club Girl: Julie Molloy 

I am an eager consumer of the internet. I subscribe to fifty-something design, writing, fashion, food, music and culture blogs and a good chunk of my evenings, try as I might (not very hard), are spent with an Old Fashioned and my friend Google Reader. I feel encouraged and connected every time I find inspiring projects. I rely on the veteran cultivators of online design culture like Bobby Solomon and Bryony and Armin. Of course I am not unique, creative people of 2012 are able to consume so much, digesting the latest (literally, almost instantaneously so) brand new things in incredibly vast amounts at an incredibly rapid rate.

I think we often forget that we are basically the first generation of creatives working in this environment. And sometimes I can’t help but wonder what this constant churning through every breaking trend is doing to our work, to our collective focus.

So while I love the internet, thrive on the internet!, I have an alter-ego who gets a little overwhelmed by it all, who wants to slow the roll and craves inspiration that is a little less fleeting. And I think this is the part of me that has developed a tremendous love for something that may sound very drab and dry… 18th and 19th century British art, and the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites, especially.

In 2010 I took a three-month internship in London and did what lonely, broke students do: visit free museums. As connected to design culture as the internet allows me to feel, I’ve never felt more connected to the world than the days I spent humbled by the collections of classic art at the Tate and the V&A. It’s the drama of the narratives, the history and the mind-boggling skill—some of them enormous, taking years and years to complete—that draws me. It makes you feel big and small all at once. And with the Pre-Raphaelites in particular it’s their romanticism, their attention to light and color, their obsession with detail and facial expressions that really melts me. Their paintings are so inimitable and so alive to see in person that you are forced to actually stand still for a minute. And although they may not inspire you in the immediately useful and obvious ways we’ve become used to, they can inform you and help shape a richer context.

So to break up your internet, a few paintings by the Pre-Raphaelite John Everett Millais and John William Waterhouse, who painted in the style a bit later, are above, but I hope you will get to see them IRL someday… not sure old JWW would appreciate the benefits of “low-res”. And until then, here is a book I highly recommend, it was a great time in art history and their lives read like an improbable soap opera. These guys were young, audacious and interesting, and I swear this stuff is as worthy of your eyes as the hyper-minimalist Mad Men poster I can’t wait to find tomorrow.

- Julie