John Baldessari

Photography by Hedi Slimane

John Baldessari
Born:
June 17, 1931
Birthplace:
National City, California, United States

About John Baldessari

One of the founders and innovators of conceptual art, John Baldessari has continued his exploration of the structure of artistic practice and visual thinking for close to sixty years. Photographs, text, and spots of color are the frequent starting points for his work, and these simple devices uncover the visual and ideological mechanics of how an artwork directs a viewer’s eye and thoughts. However, the outcome is never dry: Baldessari always brings large dose of wit and humor providing often much needed levity and self-reflection to art in general.
 
The Spectator is Compelled..., 1967–68, was completed in National City, California, before Baldessari moved to Los Angeles. For the work, Baldessari posed for a photograph that was exposed directly to the canvas. The artist stands in the center of the scene, staring down a city street. The sides of the street mimic the sight lines of traditional painting perspective. In a gesture both comic and revolutionary, Baldessari quotes a composition textbook, telling the viewer what the photograph expects their eyes to do, “to look directly down the road and into the middle of the picture.” Balsessari, separating the rules or hidden tricks of an image from the image itself, opened up a world of idea-based art.  
 
In Seashells/Tridents/Frames, 1988, Baldessari assembled a grouping of five black-and-white photographs, cropped or partially covered, that have no obvious relationship to each other. In the rightmost image a cropped man “fishes” with a trident poised over still waters; to the left, a suited man presents ornate picture frames; and central left, a collection of seashells are on display in a cabinet. All serve as metaphors for the contemporary artist’s search for choice images, as well as for the presentation, framing, and display of those images, and for the artist’s self or identity. Seashells/Tridents/Frames is a contemplation of issues about art making that have fascinated Baldessari and propelled his work for years.
 
In the more recent work Noses & Ears, Etc. (Part Two): (Green) Face with Nose, (Yellow and Violet) Hands, (Red) Arm and Pistol (with Tie), 2006, Baldessari continues his interest in often dark themes balanced with visual tricks and humor. A man, maybe a criminal or a hostage, is having his pistol taken away. The use of color and whimsy dissolves the potential threat of the weapon into a complex visual situation.

By John Baldessari in the Collection

John Baldessari
1984
four black and white photographs; mounted on board
64 x 72 3/4 in. (162.56 x 184.79 cm)
John Baldessari
2012
multi-color screenprint
38 x 24 1/4 in. (96.52 x 61.6 cm)
John Baldessari
2012
multi-color screenprint
38 x 24 1/4 in. (96.52 x 61.6 cm)
John Baldessari
2012
multi-color screenprint
38 x 24 1/2 in. (96.52 x 62.23 cm)
John Baldessari
2012
multi-color screenprint
38 x 24 1/4 in. (96.52 x 61.6 cm)
John Baldessari
1985
black-and-white and color photographs with vinyl paint and oil tint, mounted on five panels
185 1/16 x 446 1/8 in. (470.06 x 1133.16 cm)
John Baldessari
1990
three color photographs with vinyl paint and acrylic paint
52 x 72 in. (132.08 x 182.88 cm)
John Baldessari
2012
multi-color screenprint
38 x 24 1/4 in. (96.52 x 61.6 cm)
John Baldessari
2012
multi-color screenprint
38 x 24 1/4 in. (96.52 x 61.6 cm)
John Baldessari
2012
multi-color screenprint
38 x 24 1/4 in. (96.52 x 61.6 cm)
John Baldessari
2012
multi-color screenprint
38 x 24 1/4 in. (96.52 x 61.6 cm)
John Baldessari
1988
four black and white photographs with oil tint
156 x 192 in. (396.24 x 487.68 cm)
John Baldessari
1982
Eleven black-and-white photographs, one color photograph, one text panel
84 x 72 in. (213.36 x 182.88 cm)
John Baldessari
1984
six gelatin silver prints mounted on board in artist's frame
68 x 48 in. (172.7 x 121.9 cm)
John Baldessari
1987
photographs mounted on board
87 x 60 in. (220.98 x 152.4 cm)
John Baldessari
2002
digital photographic print with acrylic on Sintra board in 8 parts
84 1/2 x 87 1/2 in. (214.63 x 222.25 cm)
John Baldessari
2006
three dimensional archival digital photographic prints, with acrylic paint
72 x 71 1/2 x 4 in. (182.88 x 181.61 x 10.16 cm)
John Baldessari
2006
three-layer, six-color screenprint; mounted to Sintra and framed
34 3/4 x 63 x 3 in. (88.27 x 160.02 x 7.62 cm)
John Baldessari
2006
two-layer, seven-color screenprint; mounted on Sintra and framed
34 3/4 x 32 x 3 in. (88.27 x 81.28 x 7.62 cm)
John Baldessari
2006
three-layer, 26-color screenprint; mounted to Sintra and framed
34 3/4 x 62 3/4 x 3 in. (88.27 x 159.39 x 7.62 cm)
John Baldessari
2006
two-layer, seven-color screenprint; mounted to Sintra and framed
34 1/4 x 62 1/2 x 3 in. (87 x 158.75 x 7.62 cm)
John Baldessari
2006
two-layer, 12-color screenprint; mounted to Sintra and framed
34 3/4 x 56 3/4 x 3 in. (88.27 x 144.15 x 7.62 cm)
John Baldessari
2006
three-layer, 14-color screenprint; mounted to Sintra and framed
34 3/4 x 37 x 3 in. (88.27 x 93.98 x 7.62 cm)
John Baldessari
2000
three lambda prints with acrylic on Sintra
79 x 60 in. (200.66 x 152.4 cm)
John Baldessari
2012
multi-color screenprint
38 x 24 1/4 in. (96.52 x 61.6 cm)
John Baldessari
2012
multi-color screenprint
38 x 24 1/4 in. (96.52 x 61.6 cm)
John Baldessari
2015
Diptych: varnished inkjet print on canvas with acrylic paint
108 x 67 1/2 x 1 1/2 in. (274.3 x 171.5 x 3.8 cm)
John Baldessari
1988
five black and white photographs with oil tint and vinyl paint
97 x 154 in. (246.38 x 391.16 cm)
John Baldessari
2010
varnished archival print on canvas with oil and acrylic paint
70 x 54 in. (177.8 x 137.16 cm)
John Baldessari
2014
varnished inkjet print on canvas with acrylic paint
66 1/2 x 108 x 1 1/2 in. (168.9 x 274.3 x 3.8 cm)
John Baldessari
2015
varnished inkjet print on canvas with acrylic paint
54 x 57 5/8 x 1 5/8 in. (137.16 x 146.368 x 4.128 cm)
John Baldessari
2001
digital photographic prints with acrylic on Sintra board
84 3/8 x 66 x 1 3/4 in. (214.31 x 167.64 x 4.45 cm)
John Baldessari
1967 - 1968
photographic emulsion and acrylic on canvas
59 x 45 in. (149.86 x 114.3 cm)
On View
John Baldessari
1992/99
black lithography all other colors silkscreen
40 x 28 in. (101.6 x 71.12 cm)
John Baldessari
1966-68
acrylic on canvas
68 1/4 x 56 1/2 x 1 1/2 in. (173.36 x 143.51 x 3.81 cm)
On View
John Baldessari
2012
multi-color screenprint
38 x 24 1/4 in. (96.52 x 61.6 cm)
John Baldessari
2012
multi-color screenprint
38 x 24 1/4 in. (96.52 x 61.6 cm)
John Baldessari
2012
multi-color screenprint
38 x 24 1/4 in. (96.52 x 61.6 cm)
John Baldessari
2012
multi-color screenprint
38 x 24 1/4 in. (96.52 x 61.6 cm)
John Baldessari
2012
multi-color screenprint
38 x 24 1/4 in. (96.52 x 61.6 cm)
John Baldessari
2012
multi-color screenprint
38 x 24 1/4 in. (96.52 x 61.6 cm)