John Baeder: Looking Back (1972-2018) on view at ACA Galleries, through February 18,2023.
January 29 2022: ACA Galleries, 529 West 20th Street, hosted a reception to celebrate the artist John Baeder. ACA and MB Abram announced John Baeder’s first exhibition at the gallery, which began in early November. Comprising five decades of work from 1972 – 2018 the show includes the last remaining paintings from the artist’s personal collection alongside his final series of Matchbook Cover paintings as well as his luminous still life photographs.
A consummate collector of Americana, Folk Art, classic cars, vintage post cards and match book covers, to name a few, these artifacts serve as potent source material for the artist. His early paintings depict the optimism of Post-War America – classic diners with streamlined designs and shiny aluminum surfaces – Big Boy and other icons of roadside popular culture – motels and campgrounds dependent on a new economy which allowed for automobiles and more leisure activity; the paintings embody a sense of hope, prosperity and ambition. As years pass the paintings document the decline and deterioration of these places signaling a shift away from the idealism so prevalent in the earlier works.
In 2018 Baeder was diagnosed with macular degeneration, an eye condition which continually weakens the vision. The disease forced him to turn from his signature Super Realist style to a looser more gestural technique as in the Matchbook Covers and his recent landscapes which verge on total abstraction. Born in 1938, Baeder moved to New York in 1964 as Art Director for Marschalk Co. Although extremely successful in advertising, his first love was painting which he pursued after hours. In 1972 Ivan Karp, founder of thelegendary gallery OK Harris paid him a visit and upon seeing the work immediately offered the artist a solo show. Baeder promptly quit his job and never looked back. He exhibited with OK Harris to much acclaim until the gallery closed in 2014.
Baeder’s work can be found in numerous museum collections including the CooperHewitt Museum; Smithsonian Institution, NY; Denver Art Museum, CO; Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT; among many others. In 2007 the Morris Museum in Augusta, Georgia organized the retrospective exhibition and accompanying book Pleasant Journeys and Good Eats Along the Way: The Paintings of John Baeder. Other books about the artist’s work include John Baeder’s Road Well Taken, Jay Williams (2015) and Diners, by Vincent Scully (1977).
ACA Galleries, 529 West 20th Street in Chelsea Gallery District
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 11am – 6pm. Sunday – Monday: By Appointment