Jo Baer

29 Mar - 30 Jun 2012

© Jo Baer
H. Orbitaster, 1973
Oil on canvas
22 x 96 x 4 inches (55.9 x 243.8 x 10.2 cm)
Paintings 1966–1980
29 March – 30 June, 2012

Painting is an artificial medium in which you have to be genuine. A canvas is a world.
—Jo Baer

Gagosian Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of paintings by Jo Baer, organized in collaboration with Josh Baer.

Jo Baer is considered to be one of the few true exponents of Minimalist painting. By 1960 she had established her mature style, painting monochrome canvases with vestigial abstract markings. Her formal code dictated that the abstract paintings consist of a white or gray monochrome surface framed in black at the edges, with vivid color placed directly next to the frame, thus establishing subtle chromatic friction. In her later figurative works she began to incorporate fluid, organic motifs sourced from prehistoric sculptures and cave paintings. However, even with this radical change in style and content, she continued to set strict parameters to define the fundamental aspects of her painting. For example, figurative works always contained specific elements: a human form, a non-human form, an object, and a symbol of a concept.

In Untitled (1968), Untitled (1972), and an untitled diptych (1966–74), radiant chromatic juxtapositions and sparse compositional elements reduce the illusion of depth, while emphasizing the physical object hood of the large, flat plane of the canvas. The seemingly identical panels of the diptych each comprise an expanse of tonal linen white, bound on all sides by bold black lines that are reiterated contiguously in electric aquamarine. The liminal space vibrates between the doubled yet discrete parts, allowing for optical interplay from edge to edge. Untitled (1972) offers a similar optical effect within a single canvas with its blank monochrome surface between two vertical black rectangles bordered in light azure blue.

A wholly different approach to abstraction is evident in several works from the seventies and eighties, which invoke lived experience. H Orbitaster (1973) is a wide canvas hung low to the ground. The deep stretcher adds volume and casts unexpected shadows about the gallery space, while aerodynamic forms in varying hues of grey and blue bound across the front and sides of the work. Renvers (1980) refers to an equestrian dressage term regarding the movement of a horse's hindquarters, thus equine and human posteriors are the central motifs of the painting, rendered as fragmentary images painted in subtle, richly amalgamated shading. Consistent with the earlier abstract Minimalist work, Baer asserts the map-like flatness of the picture plane.

Jo Baer was born in 1929 in Seattle, Washington and studied at the University of Washington and the New School for Social Research, New York. Her work is represented in many major public and private collections worldwide. Important solo exhibitions include "Jo Baer," the Whitney Museum, New York (1975); "Jo Baer, Paintings 1965–1975" Museum of Modern Art, Oxford (1978); "Jo Baer Palimpsests: A Selection of Paintings and Drawings 1963–1993," Rijksmuseum Kroeller-Mueller, Otterlo (1993); "Jo Baer, Paintings 1960–1998 / Schilderijen 1969–1998," Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1999); "Jo Baer. The Minimalist Years 1960-1975," DIA Center for the Arts, New York (2002); and "Triotentoonstelling 2009: Jo Baer, Lynda Benglis, Jutta Koether," Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2009).

Jo Baer lives and works in Amsterdam.

Tags: Jo Baer, Jo Baer, Lynda Benglis, Jutta Koether