Born in National City, California in 1931, Baldessari studied art at San Diego State College from 1949-1957, also attending the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, Los Angeles during 1954 and 1955. He developed his painting style, incorporating letters, photographs and words and by 1966 he was using photographs and text on canvas.
An educator since 1959, Baldessari has taught and influenced artists such as Barbara Bloom, Cindy Sherman, Mike Kelley, David Salle, James Welling, and Elliot Hundley. Baldessari started as a printmaker in the 1970s. His first notable print, I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art, became part of the notorious show by the same name. As a printmaker, Baldessari has worked with many notable publishers such as Brooke Alexander Editions, Arion Press, Cirrus Editions, Crown Point Press, and Gemini G.E.L.
Baldessari has had exhibitions at many premier institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, SF MoMA, the Whitney Museum of Art, and Kunsthaus Graz. Additionally, his work is included in many prestigious collections such as the Broad Art Collection, Museum of Modern Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Baldessari is the recipient of many awards including Guggenheim Fellowship; Oscar Kokoschka Prize, Austria; Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts, California; Spectrum-International Award for Photography of the Foundation of Lower Saxony, Germany; College Art Associations Lifetime Achievement Award; Artist Space, New York;Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities Fellow, sponsored by the University of Southern California; Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Americans for the Arts, Lifetime Achievement Award, New York; Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement, and LIII Venice Biennale,Venice, Italy.