Remembering Artist John Baldessari

remembering artist John Baldessari

The world lost artist John Baldessari last week at his home in Venice, Los Angeles. Passing away at the age of 88, he left us with some of the most inventive, ironic and unusual art in multiple mediums, forever cementing his place in Art History as The Godfather of Conceptual Art.

Remembering Artist John Baldessari

John Baldessari photographed in his studio in Santa Monica by Larry Sultan

His immense range of work references just about every art movement from Dadaism to Pop. Illustration, collage, photography, painting, text… all infused with irony, wit, provocation and yes, talent.

John Baldessari, Studio, 1988
Buildings=Guns=People- Desire, Knowledge, and Hope (with Smog), 1985
John Baldessari, Numbered Legs, 2015

An artist whose credo was “Stamp out boring art.”, he received numerous honors over the course of his career, including the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale in 2009 and the National Medal of Arts.

John Baldessari, John Baldessari, 1966-68 Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell, Broad Museum, photo: Laura Sweet
John Baldessari, Concrete Couples, 2015

The California born Baldessari earned an MFA in 1957 at the current-day San Diego State University and began teaching high school, only to go on and hold prestigious posts as an educator at CalArts, UCLA and UC San Diego, instructing students such as artists Mike Kelley, David Salle, Barbara Bloom, and Matt Mullican.

John Baldessari, Learning To Read/ Alphabet at the LA Art Show, photo: Laura Sweet
John Baldessari, Learning To Read (detail) at the LA Art Show, photo: Laura Sweet
John Baldessari, Learning To Read (detail) at the LA Art Show, photo: Laura Sweet

Learning To Read With John Baldessari

Many wonderful posthumous tributes to the artist have been published in major newspapers and art magazines, such as  Wallpaper Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, the New York Times (who also shared this slide show of his work), and Artnet, to name a few.

Prima Facie (Fourth State)- Green and Et Cetera, 2005 Archival pigment print and silkscreen on canvas
Noses & Ears Etc.: The Gemini Series Two Profiles, One With Nose (B&W); One With Ear (B&W), 2006, 2-layer, 7-color screenprint construction

This wonderful 6 minute film (shown below), A Brief History of John Baldessari, created in 1994 by Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman and narrated by Tom Waits that entertainingly encapsulates the essence of the late artist and his work.

See John Baldessari’s work on Artsy here

John Baldessari Books, Catalogs and Posters

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