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John Baldessari

John Baldessari
image via NYT
b. 1931
Lives and works in:
Santa Monica, CA
Represented by:

Marian Goodman Gallery, New York & Paris

Education includes:

San Diego State College BA
University of California at Berkley
San Diego State College MA
Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles
Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles

Much of Baldessari’s work involves pointing- that is, telling the viewer not only what to look at but how to make selections and comparisons, often simply for the sake of doing so. Baldessari takes photographs and then obliterates essential information with playfully color fills, emphasizing the “filling in the blanks” activity that each individual observer participates in when formulating a judgment of an image.

Baldessari’s Commissioned Paintings series took the idea of pointing literally, after he read a criticism of conceptual art that claimed it was nothing more than pointing. Beginning with photos of a hand pointing at various objects, Baldessari then hired amateur yet technically adept artists to paint the pictures. He then added a caption “A painting by [painter’s name]” to each finished painting. In this instance, he has been likened to a choreographer, directing the action while having no direct hand in it, and these paintings are typically read as questioning the idea of artistic authorship. The amateur artists have been analogized to sign painters in this series, chosen for their pedestrian methods that were indifferent to what was being painted.

John Baldessari

Yves Saint Laurent Shirt, image via W Magazine

His signature works are vintage photographs, blown-up and cropped tightly with large colored blobs filling in or covering up important shapes within the photographs. Or perfect circles blotting out the faces in a snapshot that looks like it could be the photo of headline article.

Baldessari has been collected by many, everyone from the Rubell family to Kate Spade (see article in December 2006 World of Interiors) feature him as a mainstay in their contemporary collections. He has produced a prolific amount of pieces and has exhibited his work in over 120 solo shows worldwide.

Baldessari at Pepe Cobo Madrid Feb 1 – March 19 2008 [ArtObserved]

John Baldessari, Tiger

image via DB Art Mag

Stonehenge (With Two Persons), Mixografia via www.geocities.com/christophermulrooney

Stonehenge (With Two Persons), Mixografia

[image via www.geocities.com/christophermulrooney]

Domestic Smoke: Desire, Power, Colored Intervals, and Genie (with Two Boxed Asides) image via www.news.cornell.edu

Domestic Smoke: Desire, Power, Colored Intervals, and Genie

(with Two Boxed Asides) image via www.news.cornell.edu

Wikipedia Entry

Artist’s Homepage

More information coming soon.

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