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I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art

Updated: May 3, 2023

Glenn Herbert Gould (September 25, 1932 – October 4, 1982)

was a Canadian classical pianist.

John Anthony Baldessari (June 17, 1931 – January 2, 2020)

was an American conceptual artist.

Glenn Gould and John Baldessari worked in different artistic fields: Gould was a musician,

Baldessari - a painter. But they were similar in their nonconformity, strength of personality, and eccentricity. Both of them, in their uncompromising quest for artistic ideal, were brilliant at using the latest technology and advancing the theory of art.

Glenn Gould's anniversary is today, September 25th. Let us celebrate it, together with his spiritual pal, Baldessari. Here are some some amazing parallels in their artistic lives and a couple of documentaries.

1. Both made a dramatic decision at the high of their career:

On 10 April 1964, 31-year-old Gould

gave his last public performance, at Wilshire-Ebell Theater in Los Angeles;

with repertoire of Johann Sebastian Bach,

Ludwig van Beethoven and Paul Hindemith.

Baldessari cremated his work

(landscape and abstraction paintings, created between 1953 -1966). The ashes from these paintings were baked into cookies, and locked in a book-shaped urn (The Cremation Project. 1970).

2. Both turned to the new media:

Gould based his further career on recording and television. In his words, he developed a "love affair with the microphone."

Baldessari turned to printmaking, film, video, installation, photography and sculpture. “I could never figure out why photography and art had separate histories. So I decided to explore both."

J.B. I will not make any more boring art, lithograph, composition: 22 3/8 x 29 9/16"

(56.8 x 75.1 cm); (1971). MOMA collection.

3. Both had special connection to Beethoven:

13-year-old Gould gave his orchestral début of the first movement of Beethoven's

4th Piano Concerto with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, on May 8th 1946.

Here, with Leonard Bernstein conducting New York Philharmonic, in 1961.

Beethoven’s Trumpet: In One Ear & Out the Same Ear is John Baldessari's first ever sculptural project (2007).

When a viewer speaks into the trumpet, the voice triggers a short musical phrase drawn from one of Beethoven’s Late String Quartets (Opuses 127, 130, 131, 132, 133, and 135), written while the composer was completely deaf. Each work in the series plays a different musical phrase.

4. In both cases, their dramatic gesture and their consistency on the new path, changed them into mythical figures for the audience.

Extracts from The art of Piano documentary show Glenn Gould playing J.S.Bach's Partita #2.

A Brief History of John Baldessari, narrated by Tom Waits.

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