Getty Research Institute, Photographs, Film, and Video

Boring Art? Bring It.

I Will Not Talk in Class

Expensive, large, and burdensome to travel with, the camcorders I was first exposed to served only one purpose: to painstakingly document every birthday party, dance recital, and performance of Shakespearean soliloquies on the stage (ahem, fireplace) of my childhood.

It was years later, as a high schooler in a modern and contemporary art course, that I first learned of alternative—and highly preferable—uses for video. The instructor played an 8-minute clip from a 32-minute video that left most of the class bored, asleep, or giggling like immature imbeciles. Meanwhile, I sat riveted as I watched a hand scribbling the phrase, “I will not make any more boring art,” over and over and over and over again.

Superficially, perhaps it was the not-yet-faint memory of writing “I will not talk in class” ad nauseum for Mrs. Redman in third grade that generated the appeal, but the paradox espoused by the piece also reached me on a far deeper and more profound level. This was my first interaction with three artistic vocabularies that would come to be integral to my aesthetic as an adult: John Baldessari, video art, and conceptual art.

Years later, I was delighted when GRI curator Glenn Phillips included Baldessari’s I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art (1971) in the brilliant—and, for me, transformative—exhibition California Video, a 40-year survey of video art in California at the Getty Center in 2008. Sadly, the Getty’s exhibition came to a close, but the video is always viewable in the GettyGuide™ room at the Museum. Also, the video is currently on view in Baldessari’s extraordinary retrospective Pure Beauty at LACMA (through this Sunday), along with some other classics, such as Baldessari Sings LeWitt (1972) and I Am Making Art (1971).

Or watch it here (browse by artist) whenever the mood strikes you!

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      All Hail Tiberius, Least Media-Savvy of the Roman Emperors

      Tiberius was proclaimed Roman emperor on September 17 in AD 14, exactly 2,000 years ago.

      He was also a bit wacko. “He was the least media-savvy emperor you could imagine,” says curator David Saunders, who has been in charge of this bronze portrait of Tiberius which leaves us on September 22. He point to this description found in the writings of Cassius Dio:

      Tiberius was a patrician of good education, but he had a most peculiar nature. He never let what he desired appear in his conversation, and what he said he wanted he usually did not desire at all. On the contrary, his words indicated the exact opposite of his real purpose; he denied all interest in what he longed for, and urged the claims of what he hated. He would exhibit anger over matters that were far from arousing his wrath, and make a show of affability where he was most vexed…In short, he thought it bad policy for the sovereign to reveal his thoughts; this was often the cause, he said, of great failures, whereas by the opposite course, far more and greater successes were attained.

      Moreover, David tells us, “Tiberius’s accession itself was a farrago: Tiberius sort-of feigning reluctance, the Senate bullying him, he being all, ‘Well, if-I-have-to,’ and in the end—according to Suetonius—saying he’ll do it as long as he can retire.”

      Suetonius is full of great, albeit spurious, anecdotes about poor old Tiberius, David reports. “When someone addressed him as ‘My Lord,’ it is said, Tiberius gave warning that no such insult should ever again be thrown at him.”

      Happy accession, My Lord!

      Portrait Head of Tiberius (“The Lansdowne Tiberius”), early 1st century A.D., Roman. The J. Paul Getty Museum

      Statue of Tiberius (detail), Roman, A.D. 37, Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei – Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, Laboratorio di Conservazione e Restauro. Currently on view at the Getty Villa following conservation and study.

      09/17/14

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