John Baldessari

Sonnabend Gallery

John Baldessari has trained generations of audiences to look behind the curtain of appearances and question how meaning is generated. He attends to the forgotten corners of images, to puns and juxtapositions that pry a cockeyed poetry from the banal, and in so doing, he has consistently upheld the basic tenets of Conceptualism: its concern with tautologies, linguistic conundrums, and the self-referentiality of image-making. His recent show presented work from almost thirty years ago, a series of paintings anchored to a rigorous theoretical framework that is, nevertheless, entirely explicated on the invitation card.

In keeping with the artist’s no-brainer honesty in titling, the series is called “The Commissioned Paintings.” In the text on the invite, we learn that when the artist was a kid, he would go with his father to country fairs where he often spent time looking at the work of local

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