A Brief History Of John Baldessari is a fantastic short documentary that looks at the life and works of the American conceptual artist John Baldessari. Commissioned by LACMA for their first annual “Art + Film Gala”, the film is narrated by Tom Waits and directed by Catfish directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman.
Despite having a running time of just a little under six minutes, the film still manages to capture so much of Baldessari’s life, work and personality. It’s a documentary which is filled with quick edits, a frenzied pace and a wonderful dry sense of humour which bounces back and forth between Waits’ narration and Baldessari in his studio. It reminds me a lot of the snappy pictorial montages seen in Mike Mills’s ‘Beginners’ and I think it’s a storytelling technique which works really well in this context. Hopefully the LACMA’s Art + Film Gala goes on to be an annual event and we get to see many more great films like this in the future.