Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Culture Watch: The book on John Baldessari

June 06, 2012|By Christopher Knight
  • The first volume of Baldessari's catalogue raisonne is an indispensable guide to his early work.
The first volume of Baldessari's catalogue raisonne is an indispensable… (Yale University Press )

John Baldessari Catalogue Raisonné, Volume One: 1956-1974, Yale University Press

472 p., 500 color illustrations, $200

For the cover of the first of four planned volumes cataloging the entire output of hugely influential Conceptual artist John Baldessari, designer Simon Johnston came up with an illuminating solution. Much of Baldessari's work is a mash-up of the visual and the verbal, marked by a double-take sensibility and a fill-in-the-blank demand for viewer participation. Johnston's all-text design drops out every vowel, then wraps the spaced consonants from the sky-blue spine to the front cover. It's a neat trick: Immaterial language emphasizes physical heft for a chunky book, while making the tome functionally simple to spot on a crowded bookshelf.

Volume One is especially interesting because it includes all the known but rarely seen works Baldessari made before his 1966 breakthrough merging image and text. (Did I mention that it includes an extensive interview I did with the artist for the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art, nicely edited by Patrick Pardo and Robert Dean?) The price is hefty, as is common for a profusely illustrated catalogue raisonné, but the book is indispensable for avid followers of contemporary art.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|