John Baldessari helped kick the conceptual art movement into high gear in the 1960s, when he started incorporating photography and text into his paintings. Later he became fond of setting himself a task (“Throw three balls in the air to get a straight line”) and documenting the results. In 1970 at Los Angeles’ Cal Arts he typed out some 100 instructions for his students to open up their own art-making. On the occasion of Baldessari’s time at California College of the Arts this spring as a visiting instructor, his graduate students take the artist’s suggestions as their own in the exhibit “John Baldessari: Class Assignments, (optional).” Those notes are brimming with challenging, playful ideas, like “Describe the visual verbally and the verbal visually.” Each artist adds a personal twist to the specific assignment, often testing unfamiliar media and techniques outside of their comfort zone.
Jan. 31-March 31, 2012