Celebrating “Pure Beauty”

A major John Baldessari retrospective opens.

2009 John Baldessari

Few photographic works sum up the spirit of the Golden State like artist John Baldessari's "Kissing Series: Simone Palm Trees (Near) 1975," and few Golden State artists have summed up the spirit of boundary-pushing art like John Baldessari. Of course, Mr. Baldessari's ideas belong not just to California, where he was born in 1931, but the planet at large, and art lovers at large, too.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is feting the conceptual artist with a major retrospective. "John Baldessari: Pure Beauty" runs from Sunday, June 27 through Sunday, Sept. 12.

Among the 150+ pieces in the show are the aforementioned "Kissing Series" -- a tank-topped gal pecking a palm tree -- plus many other works including the famously cheeky and famously dead-on and famously famous "Tips for Artists." Oh, and another palm tree in the celebrated "Wrong."

This is a man who has questioned as he has created. Rare is the artist who has included a hefty dash in "well what do you think, viewer?" in pretty much everything he's ever done.

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