TABLE OF CONTENTS

A SYSTEMATIC BEWILDERING: THE ART OF JOHN BALDESSARI

Imagine the damage caused by a theft which robbed you only of your frames, or rather of their joints, and of any possibility of reframing your valuables or your art-objects.

Jacques Derrida1

META-MATTERS

One of the pleasures of John Baldessari’s work is that it can be enjoyed just as readily by laypeople as by conceptual cognoscenti. It doesn’t require esoteric knowledge of semiotics, deconstruction, and dialectical materialism to relish Baldessari’s cunning wit and visual pranks. Pelicans Staring at Woman with Nose Bleeding, 1984, is funny as a simple, absurdest juxtaposition of visual signs, whether or not one “gets” Baldessari’s sly parody of the (Michael) Fried-ian absorptive gaze. But once one catches on to Baldessari’s higher level of play, the quick read and good-natured chuckles seem all the more remarkable; here is a master of the sophisticated insight served up as an accessible

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW at the special holiday rate of $45 a year—70% off the newsstand price. You’ll receive the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the December 1989 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.