Remembering John Baldessari

A founding member of CalArts faculty, John Baldessari died on Jan. 2, 2020. Here is a photo of the artist in 2015, at the dedication of the John Baldessari Studios at CalArts.

“Trailblazer,” “a gentle giant,” “witty,” “a fountain of creativity,” these are some of the words from around the web, describing the late artist John Baldessari, who died at the age of 88, on Jan. 2. 

As one of CalArts’ founding faculty members, Baldessari’s legacy and influence reaches far and wide. He was a radical and influential teacher, who, according to The New York Times, liked to tell students, “Don’t look at things — look in between things.” And in the obituary in the Los Angeles Times, Lisa Wainwright, a professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, said, “He had the idea that art school is about free play, that it’s about unfettered experimentation that issues creative propositions…Everything was possible and anything goes.”

Many of his admirers, peers and students — including CalArtians Tony Oursler (Art BFA 79) and Michael Jang (Art BFA 73) — have also taken to social media to express their sorrow and respect for Baldessari. Below are some of their posts:

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