John Baldessari
American artist



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John Baldessari
American artist
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Birth Date

June 17, 1931

More about John Baldessari

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John Baldessari is a giant in the world of conceptual art…no, literally. He's 6’7’’.

He is so tall that he has an additional peephole in his studio door for the rest of us shorties. In the words of A.J. Liebling, “he was taller than anyone more serious, and more serious than anyone taller.”

Don’t let his mild resemblance to Santa (“big, beautiful beard,” rosy cheeks, etc.) fool you, Baldessari is a crazy person. He’s blatantly said so himself and thinks of it as a requirement for being a truly great artist, and who are we to judge? It’s not like Vincent van Gogh or Frida Kahlo particularly had their shit together. Exhibit A is when Baldessari decided it would be a chill idea to cremate everything he ever made from the year 1953 to 1966. He then baked part of the ashes into cookies (delish!) and the remnants lay to rest in a book-shaped urn in his studio. Because, why not?

Baldessari has been called a myriad of things - “the godfather of conceptual art, master of appropriation, surrealist for the digital age,” -- but he calls himself an “art doctor.” He was a teacher for many years in San Diego before moving to Santa Monica and his students would come to him claiming that their art was sick. He would then attend to the art until it was better, which is pretty effin’ cute.

Hailing from National City, a town south of San Diego, he didn’t have a ton of options in terms of supporting himself via art in the '60s so he became a teacher. And a brilliant teacher he was. He inspired artists such as David Salle, Barbara Kruger and Cindy Sherman. He has claimed that the three lessons an artist should learn are as follows: “1. Talent is cheap. 2. You have to be possessed, which you can’t will. And 3. Being at the right place at the right time.” This wisdom has been sufficiently earned. In his 82 years he's had 200+ solo shows, over 1000 group exhibitions, and (the cherry on top) an iPhone app. He is one of the most accomplished artists ever. You can tell because he has a video about his life narrated by the great Tom Waits, a feat one doesn’t easily top.




  1. Salle, David. “John Baldessari.” October 09, 2013. Accessed February 12, 2017.
  2. HENRYandREL Supermarché. “A Brief History of John Baldessari.” YouTube. May 15, 2012. Posted February 12, 2017.
  3. Rao, Mallika. “WiFi Password, Courtesy John Baldessari.” Huffington Post (The Huffington Post), May 16, 2012.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about John Baldessari

John Anthony Baldessari (June 17, 1931 – January 2, 2020) was an American conceptual artist known for his work featuring found photography and appropriated images. He lived and worked in Santa Monica and Venice, California.

Initially a painter, Baldessari began to incorporate texts and photography into his canvases in the mid-1960s. In 1970 he began working in printmaking, film, video, installation, sculpture and photography. He created thousands of works which demonstrate—and, in many cases, combine—the narrative potential of images and the associative power of language within the boundaries of the work of art. His art has been featured in more than 200 solo exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe. His work influenced that of Cindy Sherman, David Salle, Annette Lemieux, and Barbara Kruger among others.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about John Baldessari.