John Baldessari

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"I will not make any more boring art." The extensive oeuvre John Baldessari (b. National City, Calif., 1931; lives and works in Santa Monica) has built over more than six decades defies conventional classification. In 1970, he cremated his early painterly work—mostly abstract pictures and collages Baldessari made before 1966—in a theatrical act. As with a conventional burial, the artist had the ashes of his incinerated pictures collected in an urn. Since 1970, he has applied his intelligence and wit to a study of the visual realities of the media, film, and art worlds. In text pictures, photographic works, videos, collages, and cut-ups, he toys with standards and stereotypes, rendering images unfamiliar by inserting blanks and superimpositions or combining text and imagery. Yet he never displays the high seriousness of conceptual art; his is the smile of the sage who is asking the right questions. The series of pictures and works in other genres he created are now regarded as seminal art of their era. Baldessari’s production first drew the art world’s attention to the American West and appealed to young European artists, who came to Los Angeles to study with him. In 1972, Baldessari was invited to show his work at documenta 5 in Kassel; in 2009, he received the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale. In honor of his achievements, the City of Goslar has now awarded him the 2012 Kaiserring. Yet despite these major recognitions of his art, he has, in Europe, remained an "artist’s artist."


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