Some of Donald Baechler’s enormous collage and acrylic paintings are created on the used drop cloths he lays down on his studio floor. His sculptures are larger than life. But our favorites are the woodcuts he did in 1994, after spending three weeks at a print project in Japan, and which we can now offer for sale at Vertu.
Baechler was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1956. His family attended Quaker meetings on Sundays, followed by visits to the Wadsworth Anthenuem Art Museum. It was there that Baechler became enthralled with the work of Andy Warhol. Baechler met his hero in New York.
Before going to New York, Baechler attended the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore from 1974 to 1977, then spent a year at Cooper Union. Baechler said he was bored at Cooper Union, where he met some German students who convinced him to study in Germany. Baechler was accepted at Stadelschule, the art school attached to the Frankfurt Museum.
When Baechler returned to New York in 1980, he met Tony Shafrazi, the owner of the Shafrazi Art Gallery, who represented Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Baechler says he’s always loved doodling, and has based many of his work on his doodles. The backgrounds of his paintings, even the paintings that look as if they have a simple, white background, are painstakingly done collage. His drawings look childlike and often evoke feelings of nostalgia and a gamut of emotions.
In the 1980s, Baechler began to make sculptures of some of the objects in his paintings. One of Baechler’s wildest sculptures is his thirty-foot tall Walking Figure, at the airport in Westhampton, New York. Other versions of Walking Figure are on the streets of St. Louis and walking across a field on Baechler’s dairy farm.
Baechler’s repetition of subjects, like beach balls and ice cream cones, in his paintings and sculptures, seem endearing, as if he has some loyalty to the objects.
His work is in the permanent collections of major galleries and museums around the world, including the Whitney Museum, MoMA, The Guggenheim, the Albertina Museum in Vienna, the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris and Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain in Geneva.
On the hipness scale: he was one of the young artists in The Gap ads of the ‘80s and his painting Gun #1 was in the collection of Dennis Hopper. Sometimes Baechler’s paintings of flowers turn into sculptures, but they don’t often become woodcuts, which is why we are so excited to have these works in our gallery.
The Baechler woodcuts we offer at VFA are a series of flowers, created in 1994. Unlike the chaotic backgrounds in much of his work, these woodcuts have careful gradations of background colors. The flowers either float against the background or are anchored to the edge of the print.
“For me,” Baechler says, “ it’s always been more about line, form, balance and the edge of the canvas—all these silly formalist concerns—than it has been about subject matter or narrative or politics.” We invite you to VFA to see the work of Donald Baechler and the other fine artists in our gallery.
Baechler in an ‘80s Gap ad
Andy Warhol “Donald Baechler “
1986 Silkscreen ink on synthetic polymer paint on canvas
40″ x 40 ” inches/101.6 x 101.6 cm
Gesso, Flashe & paper collage
on paper 40 x 40 inches (101.6 x 101.6 cm)
“Untitled (Flowers)”, 2008 Cast bronze
73 x 58 x 13 inches (185.4 x 147.3 x 33 cm)
“Donald Baechler: Painting and Sculpture” installation view with Tree, 1988, in foreground, and from left, Arithmetic, 1990; Priceless, Wordless, Loveless, 1987-88; and Untitled, 1984-85
“Deep North”, 1989
Oil and collage on linen