Tetrad Series: CERTAIN UNKNOWN UNCLASSIFIABLE CATEGORIESTetrad Series: CERTAIN UNKNOWN UNCLASSIFIABLE CATEGORIES original
- Artist: John Baldessari
- Creation date: 1999
- Object type: Photograph
From the 1960s on, the artist John Baldessari developed a distinctive style where the combination of painting, text, and photography entailed a re-evaluation of traditional painting. Baldessari is interested in poststructuralism and the language and imagery of pop culture. He plays around with language in the form of slogans and somewhat absurd expressions that he uses both with and without found photographic material.
The work Certain Unknown Unclassifiable Categories is from his “Tetrad” series, whose meaning stems for the Greek word for the number four. The painting consists of four sections of equal size: three visual sections and a text section. The three visual sections contain so-called found objects: a film still from a movie, a picture of a blue banana, and a detail from a drawing by Francisco Goya. The text has been culled from the Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa. For Baldessari, art is the same as communication; the pictures and the text are equally meaningful, but the context between the various elements can seem disjointed and absurd. The text in this painting comments on the word “categories”, which is a form of order and systemization that describes what is unknown and unclassifiable. The visual representations do not manifest any obvious connection to the text or to one another, thereby underlining the wordplay in the text. Baldessari has greatly influenced subsequent generations’ use of conceptual strategies in art, but refrains from calling himself a conceptual artist, because he considers categories as being more limitative than descriptive.