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Art of Fontainebleau – John Baldessari

I will not make any more boring art, 1998
Silk dye
33 1⁄2 x 33 1⁄2 inches each
Edition of 1,500
Viewable in all Chateau and Versailles Tower Guestrooms

Fontainebleau Hotel’s original architect Morris Lapidus broke with the conventions of his times to create what he called “an architecture of joy.” Fontainebleau has since been recognized as a masterpiece of Modernist architecture, but Modernism with an edge, and with plenty of humor and plenty of art. Fontainebleau Miami Beach was honored and voted #1 in the Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects, “Florida Architecture: 100 Years, 100 Places.”

John Baldessari is one of the icons of 20th century California and Conceptual art. His body of work spans film, photography, video, artist books, prints, sculptural objects, and installations. His artworks incorporate everything from found photographs to invented imagery to text in order to span the purported divide between high art and mass culture. He is perhaps best known for constantly questioning the boundaries that separate art from the everyday world, often in witty, humorous ways.

Each guest room in Chateau and Versailles Towers at Fontainebleau® contains an editioned work by Baldessari titled I will not make any more boring art. The piece’s genesis is in an earlier site-specific installation commissioned by the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design in 1971. Unable to make the journey to Canada on the school’s schedule,

Baldessari instead suggested that students volunteer to repeatedly write the titular phrase directly on the gallery walls. Baldessari was so inspired by the finished result – in which the students literally covered every wall, floor to ceiling, with the text – that he transferred the idea into this piece.

I will not make any more boring art is a landmark in Conceptual art. Instead of imagery, Baldessari uses only text and dry wit to make his point. The work echoes a familiar tidbit of American culture: the practice of punishing misbehaving or underachieving students by making them repeatedly copy a self-improvement mantra such as “I will not be late to class” on the chalkboard after school. Yet Baldessari reverses this punitive measure entirely by undertaking the task voluntarily and using it to produce a piece of high culture and refinement.

But perhaps most important is the irony of the work. By repeatedly copying the titular sentence and producing the results in this manner, Baldessari creates a sarcastic referendum on the validity of Conceptual art – a movement initially decried by some orthodox art critics as something less than serious artwork. Yet Conceptual art thrives on the notion that, rather than its appearance, it is the idea behind art – its intellectual rigors and interpretive possibilities – that make it thought- provoking, ground-breaking, and powerful. Now that Conceptual art has become arguably the most influential movement in contemporary art since the 1970s, I will not make any more boring art stands as a testament to the power of John Baldessari’s ideas.