Born in 1931, John Baldessari studied to be an art critic at the University of California, Berkeley during the mid-1950s; but, growing dissatisfied with his studies, he began producing artwork himself. In 1968, Baldessari met poet and critic David Antin, who helped launch Baldessari's career, introducing him to a like-minded group of emerging conceptual artists including Lawrence Weiner, Joseph Kosuth, Dan Graham, and On Kawara—all of whom would have a great influence on his artistic development.
Initially a painter, Baldessari began to incorporate photographs, notes, texts, and fragments of conversation into his canvases in the mid-1960s, playing off of chance relationships among otherwise discreet elements. In his use of media imagery, Baldessari is a pioneer "image appropriator," and as such has had a profound impact on post-modern art production.
His strategies of recontextualization and disjunction indicate the gap between perception and cognition. He has created thousands of works that demonstrate—and, in many cases, combine—the narrative potential of images and the associative power of language within the boundaries of the work of art. Influenced by dadaist and surrealist literary and visual ideas, Baldessari explains: "Everybody knows a different world, and only part of it. We communicate only by chance, as nobody knows the whole, only where overlapping takes place."
Baldessari is included in many museum collections including the Des Moines Art Center, the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His art has been featured in more than 200 solo exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe and has been the recipient of numerous awards from 1988 to present.