Conceptual Artist John Baldessari dies at 88

Baldessari taught and inspired a generation of artists including David Salle and Barbara Bloom

Los Angeles, January 5, 2020

 

Conceptual art pioneer John Baldessari has died at age 88. With over 300 solo exhibitions, more than 1000 group shows and numerous honors (including the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale in 2009), Baldessari shaped a generation of artists who came after him.

 

Born in National Citiy, California, on June 17, 1931, Baldessari held prestigious teaching posts at CalArts, UCLA and UC San Diego. His students included Barbara Bloom, Liz Craft, Ken Feingold, Mike Kelley and David Salle. 

 

In 1970, Baldessari and five friends burnt all paintings he had created between 1953 and 1966 in a dramatic piece of performance art he dubbed The Creamation Project. Driven by the desire to answer the age-old question of what is - or is not - art, he paired text paitings with photographic images (most notably in the Wrong series from 1966 - 1968), documented the accomplishment of arbitrary goals (Throwing Three Balls in the Air to Get a Straight Line or The Artist Hitting Various Objects with a Golf Club) and - as he called it - "put dots over peoples faces".

 

Notable exhibitions include:

  • Documenta V (1972)
  • Retrospective at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (1981)
  • Documenta VII (1982)
  • Whitney Biennial (1983)
  • Carnegie International (1985 - 1986)
  • Retrospective at MOCA, Los Angeles, SFMOMA, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garten, the Whitney Museum and the Musée d'Art Conteomporain, Montreal (1990-1992)
  • 47th Venice Biennial (1997)
  • "Pure Beauty" at Tate Modern, London, MACBA, Barcelona, LACMA, Los Angeles and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2009 - 2011)

 

 

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January 5, 2020