The world was sad to see the news earlier this week that artist John Baldesarri had passed away last week. As reported by the New York Times, he died at his home in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Venice last January 2. Baldesarri was a figurative and literal giant of the art world. As an artist, teacher, and museums board member, he was arguably one of the most influential contemporary artists of our times, and certainly a major force in establishing Los Angeles as a center of the global contemporary art scene. Although he worked across many mediums, including painting, he was sometimes referred to as the “Godfather” of conceptual art.
On a personal note, two years ago, I ran into Baldesarri at an exhibition at the Hammer Museum of Art in Los Angeles. He didn’t have an exhibition there at the time. He was just visiting as a patron checking out other artists’ shows.
He briefly stepped into one of the small side galleries I was in, looked around for about 15 seconds and then nonchalantly spun around and headed out into the next gallery to see the work of another artist.
I recognized him instantly. He had a distinct physical appearance, white hair and matching beard, and, of course, he was exceptionally tall — 6’ 7” — and thus hard to miss. For the briefest moment I felt a thrill at the surprising, sudden appearance of him. If anybody else in the gallery recognized him, they didn’t show it. It was a small moment I’ll cherish.
More on Baldesarri on the web here:
John Baldesarri Website: http://www.baldessari.org/
Artsy Profile of John Baldesarri: https://www.artsy.net/artist/john-baldessari
Video: A Brief History of John Baldessari: https://www.nytimes.com/video/opinion/100000006908068/john-baldessari-art.html