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John Baldessari
Detail from "Stonehedge (With Two Persons) Blue," 2005

We recently stumbled across an exhibition nestled in a small gallery on Wilshire Boulevard that gave us one of those great aha moments--we understood art in a new way, thanks to a giant of contemporary art. 

?John Baldessari: Crowds? is a collection of works on paper made by the Santa Monica-dwelling Baldessari, who?s revered by artists like Cindy Sherman. The exhibit focuses on works made with local family-run printing house Mixografia and is installed at the tiny For Your Art gallery.

The show?s big takeaways are its wit and clarity. It instructs you as the viewer to wake up and look at the whole image in a new way, rather than just moseying past yet another artwork, only half paying attention. For instance, Crowds with Shape of Reason Missing, Example 6 is an old film still of Roman centurions lined up at attention--but what they are all looking at is whited out. In another work, he puts his famous colored dots over the face in a portrait, so you?re forced to drink in the rest of the image.

The 82-year-old Baldessari is famous for the former master class he taught at CalArts, but 45 minutes at this exhibit feels like a free education.

Through June 16 at For Your Art, 6020 Wilshire Blvd.; foryourart.com

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