John Baldessari was an American conceptual artist. Born on 17 June 1931 in National City in California, he passed away at the beginning of January 2020 in Los Angeles. He was a leading figure of postmodernism, particularly that which utilised photography.

Between 1959 and 1968, he created two types of works: narrative paintings, with text painted on the canvas, and photographs with captions referring to history of art and art theory. In 1970 Baldessari burnt most of his earlier paintings in The Cremation Project, and baked their ashes into cookies. From 1980 he applied himself to creating paintings with a mixture of photographic images, concealing faces with coloured stickers and collages. He also worked in sculpture, printmaking, film, video and installation.

John Baldessari could be described as a visual poet, as his artistic approach brought additional meaning to literary expression and language's place within art, and his sensibility ties him closely to literature as well as art history. Through his collection of images of difficult moments which express human fragility, he wished to both shock the viewer and create magic.

He collected images from television, cinema, advertising and official images, but only used parts of them, which he would make negatives with to place in a frame. He explored different photographic formats by repurposing their formal use, like using panoramas for images taken vertically. 

Baldessari taught at the California Institute of the Arts from 1970-1988 and at UCLA from 1996-2007. He notably exhibited at the Paris Biennale in 1985, Documenta in 1972, and at the Venice Biennale in 2009, where he received a Golden Lion award for lifetime achievement, for his entire body of work. In 2014, Baldessari received the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama.

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All artworks of John Baldessari
Print, Throwing three balls in the air to get a straight line (best of thirty-six attempts), John Baldessari

Throwing three balls in the air to get a straight line (best of thirty-six attempts)

John Baldessari

Print - 24.2 x 32.3 x 0.1 cm Print - 9.5 x 12.7 x 0 inch


Print, Smoke, Tree, Shadow and Person, John Baldessari

Smoke, Tree, Shadow and Person

John Baldessari

Print - 76 x 76 x 1 cm Print - 29.9 x 29.9 x 0.4 inch


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When was John Baldessari born?
The year of birth of the artist is: 1931