Sensation is the edge of things. Where there are no edges, there are no places - a uniform visual field quickly disappears . . . thus the eye looks to boundaries for its information.
Van de Weghe Fine Art is pleased to present an exhibition of paintings by Jo Baer (b. 1929), an artist that has become known, over her nearly six-decade career, not only for her large and varied body of work, but for her outspoken defense of painting at a time that the medium was called into question. The exhibition was organized with the help of the artist’s son, Josh Baer.
Jo Baer received formal training in the sciences prior to her career as an artist. She moved from the West Coast, where she had been an Abstract Expressionist painter, to New York in 1960 and found her place among the artists associated with what would come to be called Minimalism including Donald Judd, Dan Flavin and Sol LeWitt. She was, along with Frank Stella and Robert Mangold, one of just a few painters, and even fewer women. As Minimalism became increasingly dominated by sculpture, Baer was an outspoken advocate for painting, a medium that many of her contemporaries considered passé, writing prolifically on her own work as well as that of other artists.
The paintings on view in the current exhibition date from the early 1960s to the early 1970s, and are prime examples of Baer’s mature and best-known work. The paintings eschew a central image in favor of a white field surrounded by alternating bands of black and vibrant color along the canvas edge. Baer is concerned with light and the eye’s perception of it: the glare that reflects off the white ground expands beyond its physical border; the abutting edges of the black and colored stripes vibrate subtly against each other. In Untitled, 1968, Baer takes this a step further, investigating the threshold at which we still perceive light as light, with the utilization of a light gray ground instead of stark white. The physical and optical qualities of the paintings are in constant play, from how each color expands over its boundary to how the painting is enhanced by its shadow on the wall.
Soon after Jo Baer’s 1975 retrospective at the Whitney Museum, which showcased her Minimalist work, the artist left New York for Ireland. Her work has since taken a figurative direction, utilizing imagery derived from country life. While her methodology has shifted in tandem to the context in which she chooses to work, Jo Baer has maintained an uncompromising, self-aware, and rational approach to painting throughout the course of her career. The paintings on view call attention to the interaction between a painting and its environment and how our perception negotiates the two. They continue to fascinate precisely because they are so insistently present.
Jo Baer currently lives and works in Amsterdam.
Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, from 10:00am to 6:00pm, and by appointment. For further information, please contact Jenn Viola at firstname.lastname@example.org.