Baldessari, John

Baldessari, John (John Anthony Baldessari), 1931–2020, American artist, b. National City, Calif., grad. San Diego State College (now Univ.; B.A., 1953; M.F.A., 1957). A founder of conceptual art, he also was an extremely influential teacher and helped make California a major art center; he taught at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts; 1970–88) and the Univ. of California, Los Angeles (1996–2005). His first works (painted 1953–66) came to disgust him, and in 1970 he burned them. His first significant paintings largely consist of passages of text, often repeated on a canvas or included with an image, and he frequently introduced an element of humor into his work. One of the best known of his text works shows his hand writing over and over “I will not make any more boring art.” Baldessari began working with photo-collages in the early 1980s, and by 1985 he had begun the works for which he is best known, photographs to which round colored stickers or painted dots have been applied, often blanking out faces so that the habitual attention of the viewer is frustrated. Late in his career, he used details from painting by old masters, combining the image with a written artist's name or film or song title. He also created videos, photographs, sculpture, and prints.

See R. Dean et al., John Baldessari Catalogue Raisonné (5 vol., 2012–2019); J. Morgan and L. Jones, John Baldessari: Pure Beauty (museum catalog, 2009); study by C. Van Bruggen (1990).

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