A concise celebration of conceptualist legend John Baldessari’s wry approach to image-making
Over the course of his 50-year career, John Baldessari never stopped exploring the seemingly infinite ways that words and images can be manipulated to create new layers of narrative meaning in art. Initially a more traditional painter, in the 1960s Baldessari found himself drawn to a combination of text and photography as the most effective vehicles for his creative intentions. Many of Baldessari’s pieces directly address the viewer with hand-painted questions about the nature of art: in What Is Painting (1966-68), Baldessari asks through the canvas, “Do you sense how all the parts of a good picture are involved with each other, not just placed side by side” This piece in particular seems to summarize Baldessari’s focus on the recontextualization of familiar images that would define his artistic practice for years to come.
Alongside reproductions of select work, this publication features a wide selection of Baldessari’s own writings from 1968 to 2011, providing further insight into the myriad critical ideas already conveyed in the artist’s work.Born in California, John Baldessari (1931-2020) was one of the most influential artists of the conceptual and post-conceptual movements. Baldessari taught at CalArts from 1970 to 1986 and then at UCLA until 2008, with artists such as David Salle and Mike Kelley as some of his earliest students. His commitment to “not making boring art” is evident throughout his entire oeuvre.