Conceived as a companion book that expands the exhibition, the publication is structured around John Baldessari’s complex operations with text and image, and at the intersection between pedagogy and art. Following the artist’s own ideas on how to arrange his work, such as by alphabet, the book employs different semantic and graphic means to organize its content.
Richly illustrated, the catalogue includes essays by curator Kit Hammonds, and Julieta González, artistic director, and a singular chronology made out of Baldessari’s own writings compiled by Kit Hammonds, and curatorial assistant Gabriel Villalobos. At the center of the publication is a series of texts by a group of the artist’s former students and CalArts collaborators (Matt Mullican, Mungo Thomson, Meg Cranston, Ilene Segalove, David Salle, Analia Saban, Edward Henderson, Liz Craft, James Welling, Ashley Bickerton, and Tony Oursler) each of whom provides a personal insight on Baldessari’s teaching and influence on their work, as well as a response from the artist commenting on what he has learnt from his students.
Together these cast a light John Baldessari’s extended practice that moves beyond working with language and images, art and pedagogy, to focus on his constant blurring of the boundaries between art and life. The artist texts convey that affective and personal dimension, which is further underscored in the chronology of the artist’s career where his own personal and distinctive sense of humor are ever present.