Springvossen 25 juni —In the land of… Jo Baer, painter


Robert van Altena talks with Jo Baer


In 2009 Jo Baer started working on a new series of paintings and collages inspired by irish (grave-) monuments of the Neolithicum. This has resulted in the presentation In the land of the giants that is now on show in the Stedelijk Museum until 1 september 2013.

The Ludwig Museum in Cologne shows a retrospect of Baer’s paintings in connection with her drawings (until 25 Jo Baer, Royal Families (Curves, Points and Little Ones), 2013, oil on canvas, 185 x 185 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Barbara Thumm, Berlin. Photo Gert Jan van Rooij.bmpaugust 2013).

Listen to the interview with Jo Baer 

In the sixties and early seventies Jo Baer came into fame with her minimalist work. Her mid-career retrospective in the Whitneymuseum (New York) in 1975 is often considered as the hard dividing line between her early abstract period and her later practice of what Baer called ‘radical figuration’. As for emphasis Baer left New York to live and work in  Smarmore castle in Ireland. Or so it was understood by many in a period when embracing figuration was considered as treason. A betrayal of the abstract in favor of  the figurative, an obsolete vocabulary the artist was supposed to have transgressed.

Baer wasn’t the only one who faced strong rejection. e.g.Composer Morton Feldman broke of his friendship with Philip Guston when confronted with the new figurative paintings of his good friend. Some, like Donald Judd, where of the opinion that painting itself had become obsolete. Why paint when you can make objects?

Jo Baer keeps on painting, and has been doing so for more than sixty years. Looking back with the benefit of a distance of more than forty years the discontinuity of Baer’s work is not so evident as it once may have seemed.

Jo Baer has been living and working in Amsterdam since 1984.


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