John Baldessari (National City, California, 1931) lived and worked in Santa Monica, California. He studied at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the San Diego State College (now the San Diego State University), the University of California, Berkeley, the Otis College of Art and Design and the Institute of Chouinard Art, Los Angeles. Baldessari was one of the most influential American artists of the second half of the twentieth century and had pursued multiple directions. In the mid-sixties, he began to incorporate text, words and pictures into his paintings, making him one of the pioneers of Conceptual art. During the seventies, he produced films, videos, installations, sculpture and photography. And in the eighties, his photographic compositions with borrowed film material initiated what is now known as artistic ‘appropriation’.
His work is characterised by a keen awareness of language – which he derived from the Structuralism of Claude Lévi-Strauss – and the incorporation of images from popular culture. Unlike other Conceptual artists, Baldessari shows a sharp sense of humour. Despite the apparent simplicity of his images, these contain multiple connotations and offer an incisive analysis of mass culture. Among the many exhibitions in art centres in Europe and America, he has had retrospectives at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, IVAM, Valencia (1989), Kunsthaus Graz (2005), MoMA, New York (2010), Tate Modern, London, and MACBA, Barcelona (2010). His work was included in the Venice Biennale (1997), the Carnegie International (1985–86), the Whitney Biennial (1983) and Documenta, Kassel (1972 and 1982).
The objects are intended to have the objective character of industrial products. They are not intended to represent anything other than what they are. The previous categorization of the arts no longer exists.