John Baldessari
Venice to Venice

John Baldessari

John Baldessari is an artist that tests boundaries. He has variously been called an LA artist, a pop artist, and a conceptual artist. But for all intensive purposes, he is, well, simply and completely an artist. Walking through parts of his exhibition John Baldessari: A Print Retrospective, at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, we watch Baldessari's work challenge how we see, what we call beautiful, and the traditional boundaries between print and sculpture. Though Baldessari began his career as a painter, in 1968 he had an sudden coming-to: he decided to hold a cremation ceremony for his entire body of work, a cumulative thirteen-years worth of paintings. After placing a notarized affidavit announcing the death of his paintings in the local paper, Baldessari began working with words, images, and other materials culled from the culture surrounding him. He continues to be a sponge for cultural information, playing around with our notions of hierarchy, of importance, and complicating what we look at and what we see.