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John Baldessari

“I Will Not Make Anymore Boring Art.”

American,  1931-2020

Biography of John Baldessari 

John Baldessari (1931-2020) was a pioneering American conceptual artist known for his playful and thought-provoking works that challenged traditional notions of art. Born in National City, California, Baldessari initially pursued art education but found himself drawn towards contemporary art movements.

He received his Master's degree in painting but soon began incorporating text and found photography into his canvases. In the 1960s, Baldessari's work took a bold turn. He became disillusioned with the emphasis on the artist's touch and created paintings with text culled from art theory, ironically painted by sign painters, removing any personal artistic mark.

This move questioned the role of the artist and the very definition of art itself. A pivotal moment came in 1970 with his "Cremation Project." In a symbolic gesture, Baldessari burned most of his paintings made before 1966, marking a clear break from his past work. He then embraced photography and video, often using chance and arbitrary constraints as guiding principles.

His works incorporated found imagery, manipulated photographs, and humorous juxtapositions of text and image. Baldessari's career spanned over five decades, and his influence on conceptual art remains significant. He also had a long and distinguished teaching career, inspiring generations of artists. Through his playful approach and constant questioning of artistic boundaries, Baldessari opened up new possibilities for artistic expression and left a lasting legacy on the art world.

John Baldessari & The Art Market 

John Baldessari's artistic legacy extends beyond the gallery walls, reflected in the strong performance of his works at auction. While Baldessari's conceptual approach often prioritized ideas over monetary value, some pieces stand out for their commercial success.

One such work is "Commissioned Painting: A Painting by Edgar Transue" (1969). This piece embodies Baldessari's shift towards conceptual art. It features a photorealistic painting of a landscape, not by Baldessari himself, but by a sign painter named Edgar Transue. The act of outsourcing the creation challenged the notion of artistic ego and the artist's hand. This pivotal work achieved a staggering $2.5 million at Sotheby's New York in 2014, solidifying Baldessari's position in the upper echelon of the art market.

Another notable piece is "I Am Making Art" (1971). This self-referential text painting exemplifies Baldessari's use of language to explore the nature of art itself. The simple, bold statement, devoid of artistic flourishes, directly addresses the act of artistic creation. While auction records for this specific work are unavailable, similar text paintings by Baldessari have reached significant prices, demonstrating the enduring value collectors place on his groundbreaking conceptual approach.

John Baldessari Artwork For Sale 

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