Nicknamed "the godfather of conceptual art", John Baldessari died on January 2. Tribute to a giant of conceptual art.
Born in 1931 in California, John Baldessari first studied art in San Diego before teaching himself at the California Institute of The Arts and then at UCLA from 1996 to 2007. He dominated his subject and his world, entertaining his audience with his enthusiasm. His work, more than 200 monographic exhibitions, 1000 group exhibitions, is one of the richest and most important of the twentieth century, which earned him a Golden Lion in Venice in 2009 for his entire career.
He has made teaching the central theme of his art, and his visual style comes from a corner of life one would never have suspected existed - the classroom. Many of his compositions include photographs or texts borrowed from various educational sources. Baldessari's best-known work, "I will not make any more boring art" (1971), is inspired by primary school punishments.
John Baldessari was greatly inspired by Marcel Duchamp, the French Dadaist, who made art a branch of philosophy. As opposed to the latter, whose work can sometimes be judged as difficult and obscure, Baldessari had this accessibility, unpretentious and sometimes casual.
His first works, produced in the 60's, were painted canvases. But in 1970 he gave up this discipline and burned almost all the paintings he produced between 1953 and 1966. He then produces photographic works, or combinations of text. In recent years, Baldessari has overpainted many images with areas of brightly coloured acrylic. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts by Barack Obama in 2015.