Karen Wright went to Los Angeles for The Independent to review the sprawling Pacific Standard Time show as well as checking in with John Baldessari. The artist explains to her there’s a contrast between artists and their work “Before Money” and “After Money:”
I started my own whirlwind tour of Pacific Standard Time at MoCA, in the downtown Geffen Contemporary space, and Baldessari was the first person I bumped into. I hugged him upwardly; at 6ft 7in, he is hard to reach. When I asked his opinion of the show he said it was “BM” – “before money” – and that, in fact, all art in LA in Pacific Standard Time, and particularly at MoCA, could be defined this way. “BM” – that is, before artists had money. I entered the cavernous space with his words ringing in my ears. The last time I was here I saw a Takashi Murakami show, and the contrasts between Murakami’s work and Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974-1981 could not be more apparent.
Murakami’s mirror-like surfaces speak of money and of the factory. The shimmering surfaces are carefully polished, to remove any trace of the artist or indeed his many assistants’ hands. Tonight, these have given way to the simple objects and hand-worked surfaces of a group of artists, many of whom were deeply engaged with political or gender themes. We are talking about the height of feminism and race issues and the end of the Vietnam War, after all.[…] My final visit is to Baldessari. I marvel at the opulence of his new place as his labrador, Giotto, fusses over me. “It’s too grand for me,” Baldessari says, somewhat sadly. […] [T]his is “After Money”, Baldessari says, and we are back to our initial conversation at MoCA. The reality is that the vigour in these Pacific Standard Time shows comes from work made to satisfy the need of the artist, based on philosophy and politics, not the market. The world, the city and its problems are at the heart of the MoCA show, which recall a time when artists made work to change the world, not to consolidate their financial position.
California Dreamers Still Make a Splash (The Independent)