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RIP artist John Baldessari, the playful artist rebel

The renowned artist, photographer, and teacher John Baldessari past away last Thursday.

Baldessari made stuff that deliberately rebelled against the principles of art.

When he read in a how-to photography guide that people should never pose in front of tree lest one appear to have an elongated head, he did just that and even more, wrote “WRONG” below the picture.

When in 1971 the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, invited Baldessari to exhibit his work but couldn’t afford to pay for his travel, he produced a handwritten note for students that encouraged them to write “I will not make any more boring art” on the gallery walls.

Baldessari enjoyed the freedom of playing with text and imagery, telling the New Yorker, “I’ve often thought of myself as a frustrated writer. I consider a word and an image of equal weight, and a lot of my work comes out of that kind of thinking.”

Baldessari never considered himself a trained artist which permitted him to stay light, sarcastic and explore everything. It was his way of saying that art can be whatever you want. “I could never figure out why photography and art had separate histories. So I decided to explore both,” he said.

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I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art

— What John Baldessari had his students scribe on a wall for a 1971 exhibition