Missoula Art Museum - John Baldessari: A Print Retrospective
John Baldessari: A Print Retrospective
by Hunter Drohojowska-Philip

Copyright: 2010

Conceptual art veteran John Baldessari (born 1931) began making prints in the mid-1970s, and has placed printmaking at the center of his appropriative practice, in which found photographs of people are amended with colorful dots that blot out the heads of the subjects, redirecting the viewer's attention towards marginal detail. "In my work," he says, "I found that I could be the master of my own universe and control what people see and pay attention to." For Baldessari, keen as he is to minimize or erase his own manual presence, printmaking also helps to flatten out these collaged additions and interventions, heightening their sense of estrangement and beguiling anonymity. Many of Baldessari's prints series have been extremely influential, such as the 1970s Raw Prints series, for which he amended photos of Santa Monica mallgoers with abstracted shapes printed above the images that replicate details from them; this series was pivotal in democratizing photo-based prints in the art world.
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