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Minimalist artist Jo Baer was born Josephine Gail Kleinberg in Seattle, Washington in 1929. Jo Baer studied at the University of Washington, Seattle from 1946 to 1949, majoring in biology, while taking freshman art courses. Jo Baer pursued studies in Gestalt psychology in New York City with the graduate faculty of the New School for Social Research from 1950 to 1953.
Initially an Abstract-Expressionist when that movement was at its height in the 1950s, Jo Baer moved to geometric, hard-edged painting when that aesthetic surfaced in the 1960s, perhaps as a result of meeting minimalist artists Donald Judd and Dan Flavin in 1962. In the 1970s, the style of Jo Baer changed back to an expressionist handling of animal and human forms.
In 1969, Jo Baer received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. She taught briefly in 1969-1970 at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Jo Baer moved to Ireland in 1975, London in 1982 and Amsterdam in 1984, collaborating with English artist Bruce Robbins from 1978 to 1984.
In a 1983 article in “Art in America”, Jo Baer essentially attacking abstraction, declared that she is “no longer an abstract artist.” While the artist describes her goal of “radical figuration,” Jo Baer remains, in the 1990s into the new millennium, an abstractionist manifesting its various idioms, from nearly pictographic drawing in paint to working with broader, simpler shapes.
Jo Baer has exhibited widely around the world, with one-person shows in many venues including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Noah Goldowsky and Fischbach galleries, in New York City; Galleria Toselli in Milan, Italy and Galerie Rolf Ricke in Cologne, Germany. Jo Baer participated in group exhibitions such as Documenta 4 in Kassel, Germany, Kolnischer Kuntsverein in Cologne, Germany and the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.
“North American Women Artists of the 20th Century”, Jules and Nancy Heller
Jo Baer website
Biography from the Archives of AskART.