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Art News Archives – When artist John Baldessari died on Saturday at the age of 88, the world of art suffered a great loss. To honor the famous concept artist,

Republished a biography of Baldessari published in 1986. month of January. The article examines Baldessari’s work, which often takes the form of graphic artists who are more interested in ideas than pictures, and quotes some of his admirers, including the scholar Lawrence Weiner, who calls Baldessari “one of the few artists and intellectuals . in the United States.” Reprinted with the author’s permission, the following is the entire article.—Alex Greenberger

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“I keep playing the game of changing this or that,” said John Baldessari, “I tell you to believe that the plane turned into a seagull and the ship into a woman …

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The artist pulled out the paintings after painting, placed each one on the mounting box and clicked his happy foot on each canvas. Portraits of friends, studies of pine trees, landscapes, still lifes, many details, pop-style paintings on posters – 13 years of accumulated work, now destroyed, taken from the Jewish Museum to the mortuary and burning. The ashes were buried in an urn behind a bronze plaque that reads: “John Anthony Baldessari, 1953. May – 1966 March.

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This example of destruction, created in 1970, established Baldessari as one of the first conceptual artists. He quickly received international attention and respect for championing the priority of ideas over performance in art.

“I stopped painting because I was afraid I would paint for the rest of my life,” Baldessari said recently. “After a certain time, people know how to do beautiful things.

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“At first, I thought of making each picture a microdot and sending it to my friends and bookmarks. But I thought it would be more like a phoenix rising from the ashes. It seems a little different. now, but at the time it seemed like the right thing to do. I felt free.”

Baldessari, 54, sipped Scotch during a rare break in the Santa Monica home he’s called home since 1970. The lack of paintings or sculptures in the large warehouse that reflects his post-studio aesthetic. The walls of the three rooms are lined with floor to ceiling bookshelves. File cabinets complete the decor. Beyond the darkroom is a small bedroom where a painting by Sol LeWitt hangs above the bed as if it were a crucifix. Baldessari was preparing for a trip to the Paris Biennale, where many of his works will be exhibited. “I travel a lot, people often think I live in New York. According to my American Airlines statement, I flew 40,000 miles last year.

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Baldessari was one of the first artists to legalize the use of good images from popular media: television, movies, newspapers and advertisements. It is shown every year at the Sonnabend Gallery in New York and often in Europe. But in Los Angeles, his hometown, you still hear people asking, “John

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? Oh yes. A tall boy with gray hair goes everywhere. His exhibition at the Margo Leavin Gallery in 1984 was actually his first solo exhibition in that city since 1970.

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Given the situation, why does Baldessari stay in Los Angeles? “It’s a feeling of permission,” said the artist. “There is a bad news ‘why not?'” Besides, I have to be a little angry to work, and L.A makes me angry. It is not a beautiful city. I hate artists for being stupid and that’s why I work. I’m mad at the L.A. bureaucracy.

Baldesaris stands six feet tall, distinguished, even by the professor, with his white hair and beard. But his blue eyes are as mischievous as a child’s, and his hands seem very delicate as he turns the pages of a catalog from his view in a German museum. He shows an example of one of his favorite works,

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(1976). It consists of six films: an airplane and a bird flying overhead; in the middle – two images of a motor ship entering the frame on the left and going to the right; and a boat with one person and a little girl resting at the bottom.

“I wanted the work to be so complex and rich that you would struggle to put it together,” Baldessari said. “I wanted everything to happen intelligently, and at the same time I ask you to believe that the plane turned into a seagull and the ship below turned into a girl. while the motorboat is sailing. I am always playing to change this or that, visually or verbally. Whenever I see a word, I repeat it in my mind. I break up and put the pieces back together to make a new word.

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Baldessari, who was originally thought to be an art critic, clearly has the feeling of a writer, and his comparisons work on the literary and visual level. They call modern stories, subtly inserting allegory, allegory and metaphor in an avant-garde context. Baldessari began working with photography and writing in the late 1960s. At that time, many artists decided to abandon the production of objects in response to the bravery of the Abstract Expressionists and a rejection of what was seen as the increasingly commercialized world of art. On the other hand, minors opted for pure purity, while intellectuals like Baldessari opted for purer things.

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In the early days, Baldessari was sometimes criticized for not being “pure”. But his friend and colleague Lawrence Weiner described him as one of the few artists and intellectuals in the United States. John d

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Clean because he understands that art is based on human interaction and we Americans understand our relationship with the world through different media. We think of any unknown situation based on what we have seen in the movies. It is the basis of our common knowledge and the way we see the world. John explores the digital understanding of media representations, using materials that affect everyday life. High quality images are good for society and help people understand and connect with the world. It seems that Baldessari must feel that his art has a practical purpose. As Weiner puts it, he is a “moral, conservative-Calvinist artist.”

Baldessari loads the slide in desktop view. The screen is lit up with a combination of black-and-white images, and the artist confesses: “I

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Art With A Conscience

(1984) is a simple horizontal triptych depicting a man with a pair of fingernails hanging from his lips, a car (an elongated drag called the Gold Coast), and a man on the edge of a diving board, nervously contemplating a jump. The mismatch between the real names and the strange and disconnected images is laughable. As with many of Baldessari’s works, the dry has a powerful effect, giving the impression that he is creating funny pictures. Baldessari protested, “I think that humor is a picture, and this is not my goal. I see my work as coming from a funny view of the world. Each picture has a sign and a meaning. really, it was like a visual poem. “I saw that man with nails in his mouth like a young soldier ready to crucify someone,” he said. “I wondered what long enough to get used to sticking your nails in your mouth.”

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Baldessari’s complex paintings reflect the duality of order and chaos, an important contrast found in his work since 1966. This can be the face of the dichotomies of heaven and hell. , birth and death, or love and hate, are all central oppositions for Baldessari. absorbed from religion. By the age of 20, he was a religious man and at one point considered giving up art to get a scholarship to Princeton Theological Seminary. He was always interested in how the world worked.

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“Even in my first philosophy class,” said Baldessari, who attended San Diego State College, “I remember asking the teacher, ‘What’s the format? ?’ But if you know what the situation is, what’s wrong?” Just looking at me, you know that’s one of the main philosophical questions coming from this kid. When did chaos become good? Or is violence something different? Do we have to be commanded so that we know?

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“The biggest problem for me is boredom. Gemini must be bored and jump from topic to topic. This feeling of constant frustration keeps me from trying to find direction. I can only guess that it doesn’t end up being something that is not usually ordered. I really like how we say, “It’s not a good picture.” Why not? How do we develop our motives? In my art, I push. I always qualify things.

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Baldessari walked over to a large box containing files full of films classified as “art”.

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