Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.
John Baldessari has been the recipient of countless awards in the course of his long career. But last week, he received the highest honour of them all: a guest appearance on The Simpsons. In an episode titled ‘3 Scenes Plus a Tag from a Marriage’, the grand old man of West Coast conceptualism played himself in a flashback scene that saw a young Marge – then a reporter for the Springfield Shopper – attempt to snag an interview with him.
Though his appearance is only fleeting, Baldessari joins a select but distinguished group of cultural icons who have made the transition to Springfield: Art Spiegelman, Frank Gehry, Glenn Close, Thomas Pynchon, Shepard Fairey and Isabella Rossellini are just some of the highbrow figures to have rubbed shoulders with Homer and the gang.
Surprisingly few visual artists have done a turn on the show, but the long-running series is embarrassingly rich in art historical references: indeed, allusions to the likes of Rembrandt, Magritte, Andy Warhol and Michelangelo can be found in scores of episodes.
More impressively still, Homer himself once enjoyed a fleeting moment of fame as a conceptual artist, only for Jasper Johns to come and steal his thunder. And indeed everything else…