Legendary L.A. artist exhibits life's work

LOS ANGELES "Pure Beauty" is the name of the collection of the work of L.A.-based artist John Baldessari from the 1960s to present day. Baldessari is considered one of this generation's most influential American artists. His concepts have made their mark in contemporary art, speaking to people.

"Is there a message? I'm sure you know, deep in my psyche there is one. If I were to express it would be only my idea," said Baldessari, who says he welcomes people to interpret his work in any way they want.

Some of the exhibit's images might be disturbing to some, leaving open the question that it would be called an exhibit of "Pure Beauty."

"We did use this title, 'Pure Beauty,' which is a work that might peak people's interest. You could say, well I wonder what 'Pure Beauty' is about? And then of course I don't think it's going to be their idea of what pure beauty is.

Baldessari admits there is some irony that his life's retrospective is being exhibited at LACMA.

"I didn't have a lot of acceptance in L.A. for some time," Baldessari said.

Baldessari has questioned the rules of what makes art. Yet here is the largest exhibit of his life's work at LACMA, the county's art museum.

"We have art here from all time, and we consider John one of the greats. He'll be here for all time, into the future," said LACMA Director Michael Govan.

"I try to be as honest as I can. I think I said some place way back that if I really saw the art I really liked, I wouldn't do art. So I guess that's just my idea of what art should be," said Baldessari, as he considered his legacy.

The show opens Sunday and runs through Sept. 12, and as the artists says, feel free to interpret this as "Pure Beauty" any way you want.

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