John Baldessari

National City, CA, California, USA
1931 – 2020

John Baldessari was born in 1931 in National City, California and died in 2020 in Los Angeles, California.

Initially trained as a painter, Baldessari began experimenting with text and photography and incorporating them into his work in the mid-1960s, evolving his practice through the 1970s into printmaking, film, books, sculpture and installation. He developed a body of work that demonstrated and disclosed the narrative potential of images and their associative power with text and language. Considered one of the founders of conceptual art, Baldessari was a hugely innovative force in contemporary art. His use of appropriation, erasure, alteration, and montage to disrupt a narrative or to construct an entirely new meaning out of recombined fragments has been utilized in disparate ways in different bodies of works spanning his career.

Recent solo exhibitions have been shown at the Museo Jumex, Mexico City (2018); Städel Museum, Frankfurt (2015); Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow (2013); and the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2012). Baldessari’s work was the subject of the major retrospective, Pure Beauty, which retraced his career from 1962–2010. Organized by Tate Modern, London, the exhibition travelled to MACBA, Barcelona; LACMA, Los Angeles; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York from 2010-2011. His work was included in the 47th Venice Biennale (1997); 50th Venice Biennale (2003); and 53rd Venice Biennale where he won the Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement (2009); the Carnegie International (1985–1986); the Whitney Biennial (1983); as well as Documenta V (1972); and Documenta VII (1982). Baldessari was the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the 2015 School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston Medal Award and the 2012 Kaiserring Award by the city of Goslar, Germany.

Photo: Heidi Slimane.