John Baldessari
Title: Face with Nose and Ear
Medium: 3 layer, 6 color screenprint, mounted to Sintra. 2007. Ed. 39/45

In 1971, John Baldessari famously created a work of art called I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art. How it came into being is a good story. In the early 1970s, the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) was emerging as a center for what would come to be called conceptual art. Because Baldessari was recognized as a foundational conceptual artist, the college wanted to bring him from Los Angeles to its campus, but they lacked the funds to do so. Baldessari came up with a solution, a very conceptual one. He gave instructions by phone to the NSCAD students to make the artwork for him: “Pull out markers and write ‘I will not make any more boring art’ over and over, directly on the gallery walls.”

I will not make any more boring art, written over and over

This was deliberately meant to invoke an elementary school punishment, but unlike an elementary school punishment, breaking rules rather than following them was part of the point.

Cliche: Japanese (Yellow)
Cliché: Japanese (Yellow)
1995. Lithograph

Baldessari, whose five-decade retrospective of work, “Pure Beauty,” exhibited at the Tate Modern in London, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, taught at UCLA from 1996 to 2007.

Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight called him “arguably America’s most influential conceptual artist” in his review of the show.

John Baldessari

Baldessari was a towering figure, both in terms of his influence and also — at 6’ 7” — literally. A conceptual artist with a famously dry wit who excelled across mediums and whose influence is seen all over the Los Angeles art world, Baldessari died in 2020 at the age of 88.