John Baldessari Tate Modern exhibition banner
John Baldessari Pure Beauty
Tate Modern: Exhibition
13 October 200910 January 2010

Based in Los Angeles since the 1960s, John Baldessari (born 1931) is one of the most influential artists of his generation. Making his name as a pioneer of conceptual art in the 1960s with his text and image paintings, he shocked the art world when he announced in a newspaper that he was cremating all the artworks he had produced between 1953 and 1966. He then turned his attention to photographic works often incorporating found film stills, trawling dumpsters for discarded material from which he created his famous photo-compositions.

Baldessari’s lifelong interest in language, both written and visual, has been at the forefront of both his artwork and his teaching, through which, over more than thirty years, he has nurtured and influenced succeeding generations of artists. His work has had a huge influence on Cindy Sherman, David Salle, and Barbara Kruger among others. His works incorporate wit and irony, both mocking conceptual art and delivering it in his iconic work I Am Making Art; superimposing media images and painting with his trademark dots and over-painted figures in The Duress Series; and exploring the idea of subliminal images in advertising in his sequence of ice cubes containing the words of his name, ‘U-BUY BAL DES SARI’.