Compiling four-hundred-plus unique works of art, this volume traces the shifts and developments in conceptual artist John Baldessari’s work from 1975-86. It covers his photo-based works such as the “Strobe,” “Word Chain,” and “Pathetic Fallacy” series from 1975; the “Violent Space” and the seminal “Concerning Diachronic/Synchronic Time: Above, On, Under (With Mermaid),” from 1976; and the “Blasted Allegories” series from 1977-78, which drew heavily from the artist’s vast collection of photo stills taken from commercial television.
In the 1980s, Baldessari’s art took a different direction, beginning with the expansive “Fugitive Essays” triptychs from 1980 and leading to 1982’s photographic interpretations of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Building on these themes, Baldessari began producing a body of work that was inspired in part by dreams, psychology, film, and popular culture. Ensuing works were more formal, elaborate, and large-scale. From 1984 to 1986 Baldessari created a number of works that employed his soon-to-be-signature colored discs painted over people’s faces in the photos.
An introductory essay will provide a close reading of selected works and a historical context for understanding Baldessari’s art from this period. A detailed chronology and exhibition history and bibliography are also included. This is the second of a projected four-volume catalogue raisonné.
Robert Dean is editorial director of the John Baldessari Catalogue Raisonné.