PRINT October 1973

Pointing, Hybrids, and Romanticism: John Baldessari

JOHN BALDESSARI’S OBJECTS ARE interesting. It’s unimportant that they are lightweight—texts, photographs, films, and video. The innovative implications of merely using any of these notational forms have disappeared. Although since Conceptual art, the “I understand” of discussion has moved into the gallery and largely devalued the “I look” of description, Baldessari respects the look of his work. He gives not only semantic, but also syntactic value for money. What are Baldessari’s concerns? Apart from common denominators like humor, photography, words, and everyday subjects, I want to discuss three particular interests: pointing, hybrids, and romanticism. These are reflected in his works of 1972–73 with which I am primarily concerned.

When you point at something without speech you are, in philosophic terms, making an ostensive definition—a nonverbal way of picking out things in the world.

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