John Baldessari | What is Painting?

John Baldessari | What is PaintingWhat is Painting [Synthetic polymer paint on canvas (1966-1968) MoMA]

  • Do you sense how all the parts of a good picture are involved with each other, not just placed side by side? Art is a creation for the eye and can only be hinted at with words.

American artist John Anthony Baldessari (June 17, 1931 – January 2, 2020) was an American conceptual artist known for his work featuring found photography and appropriated images. Initially a painter, Baldessari began to incorporate texts and photography into his canvases in the mid-1960s.

  • It was during this period that the Southern California-based artist lived and worked in Santa Monica and Venice, California. Baldessari began to reconsider both the nature of painting and more broadly, the practice of art-making itself. Undermining the importance of the artist’s hand in creating a work, he hired a commercial sign painter to execute What is Painting. 
  • Challenging the artist’s contribution of content, Baldessari appropriated the work’s text from an instructional book; turning sentences on how to compose an artwork into a self-referential painting.
  • From 1970 onwards, he began working in printmaking, film, video, installation, sculpture and photography.

I think the wonderful irony about this piece is that it’s text‘, Baldessari has said. ‘But in fact it is a painting, because it’s done with paint on canvas. So I’m really being very slyly ironic here in sayingWell, this is what painting is“.

What is Painting? | Is It Art?

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“Is It Art?”

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