Sculptures at Home: #4 John Baldessari


For this recreation we move away from the “sculpture” of the title in true Baldessari style. John Baldessari is considered a forerunner of conceptual art in the 1960s, his work spanned across the latter decades of the 20th Century and into the early part of the 21st Century. The majority of his long life was spent in California were he taught at CalArts.

This project takes inspiration from his 1970s photo based works, which are seen as key in the development of appropriation art and other practises that address the social and cultural impact of mass media. His work explores language, both written and visual, questioning the very nature of communication. Using humour to disarm the viewer, Baldessari seeks to challenge the way which we receive and interpret information. There’s always variations within each series of his works, he wasn’t concerned with creating a singular masterpiece but exploring an idea in multiple ways. 

The work were recreating is Throwing Three Balls in the Air to Get a Straight Line (Best of Thirty-Six Attempts) (1973), the works plays with the medium that captures it. They allude the lexical promise of the work’s title, instead the images themselves have a musical quality, like points of notation, or some kind of graphic score set in the Californian blue skies. An improvisation that’s been selected and edited by the photographer. The seemingly absurd and random acts of throwing balls into the air uses the comedic to point to the tragic absurdities of life’s accumulations. 

You’ll need: 

  • 3 balls, any type will do
  • A public park, your street, your garden, anywhere with a little space and a view of the sky. 
  • Something to take the photos with.


  1. Find a good spot where you can capture the balls in flight. 
  2. Throw the balls in the air. 
  3. Take the photo … 36 times.