Baldessari’s Commissioned Paintings series took the idea of pointing literally, after he read a criticism of conceptual art that claimed it was nothing more than pointing. Beginning with photos of a hand pointing at various objects, Baldessari then hired amateur yet technically adept artists to paint the pictures. He then added a caption “A painting by [painter’s name]” to each finished painting. In this instance, he has been likened to a choreographer, directing the action while having no direct hand in it, and these paintings are typically read as questioning the idea of artistic authorship. The amateur artists have been analogized to sign painters in this series, chosen for their pedestrian methods that were indifferent to what was being painted.
His signature works are vintage photographs, blown-up and cropped tightly with large colored blobs filling in or covering up important shapes within the photographs. Or perfect circles blotting out the faces in a snapshot that looks like it could be the photo of headline article.Baldessari has been collected by many, everyone from the Rubell family to Kate Spade (see article in December 2006 World of Interiors) feature him as a mainstay in their contemporary collections. He has produced a prolific amount of pieces and has exhibited his work in over 120 solo shows worldwide.