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One day in 1970, the Californian artist John Baldessari looked back over the paintings he had done over a period of almost two decades. And he decided to burn them all. Baldessari had begun his career in the 1950s by sticking to tradition. He was in his twenties, and he was still figuring out who he was as an artist and, most importantly, who he wanted to be. The result was an inventory of relatively traditional semi-abstract paintings. Rather than doing what most artists do and simply storing them away, he gathered them up, took them to a crematorium in nearby San Diego, and had the entire lot destroyed. The ashes filled 10 large boxes - some of which were stored in a book-shaped urn, en... Full story

12 January