Haynes Galleries presents “John Baeder: Work from 1962 to 2015”
November 20 to January 9, 2015
Reception: Friday, 5 p.m. to 8 pm, November 20, 2015

NASHVILLE— More than fifty years worth of John Baeder’s art will be celebrated at Haynes Galleries this fall. “John Baeder: Work from 1962 to 2015” will present the oil paintings, watercolors, and travel and still life photographs— all in the Realist tradition— that Baeder has produced during the course of his incredibly productive life as a fine artist. The exhibition will open November 20 and continue until January 9 at Haynes Galleries’ Nashville location. A reception to mark the opening will take place November 20, from 5-8 pm. 

Since the 1960s John Baeder has been producing compelling art. With an emphasis on detail, storytelling, and strong, clear graphics, Baeder’s images have subtly conveyed what has been at the heart of each of his subjects, whether it has small-town America, classic aircraft (new direction he’s been exploring for the last 17 months), or the roadside diners for which he is most known.

The exhibition is inspired by John Baeder’s Road Well Taken, the forthcoming book and biography project by curator and art historian Jay Williams and published by Vendome Press. It is the definitive account of Baeder’s multifaceted career. Williams curated a previous Baeder retrospective and wrote an essay for the accompanying book, Pleasant Journeys and Good Eats Along The Way: The Paintings of John Baeder.

Baeder’s professional fine art career began in 1972 when he left the world of advertising and his position as an award-winning Madison Avenue art director to paint full-time. He quickly found support from pioneer gallerist Ivan Karp and his New York gallery OK Harris. Together they launched Baeder’s career which quickly gained admirers. His paintings, particularly his diner images, were an immediate success and put Baeder at the forefront of the photorealist movement. The next 40 years saw Baeder dive deeper into images of roadside Americana, diversify his visual interests and media, and continue to produce art with character, heart, and of the highest creative caliber.

“John Baeder: Work from 1962 to 2015” will encompass Baeder’s entire career and thus present a multitude of works in a variety of genres and media. His black-and-white photographs, originally taken in the 1960s before Baeder committed himself full time to painting, have only recently become available for display. Traveling through small-town America, Baeder photographed the rural poverty that still mired the South. He took his camera with him to Europe to explore not the grandiose architecture of the Old World but the mundane moments and lives of its ordinary people. These images are much more interested in the implied human relationships than in documenting the reality of the place. 

In the following decades Baeder began photographing roadside establishments, other than diners per se— motels, tourist courts, gas stations, storefronts— and his always quirky signage that became a book, Sign Language: Street Signs as Folk Art. This body of photographs are devoid of people and instead focus on the implications of roadside architecture and indirectly hint at the lives that evolve around them. 

A lifelong interest in travel hasn’t limited Baeder’s eye to the ground. A youthful and continued passion for old military aircrafts has led to unique grouping of paintings in his oeuvre. Painted in palettes of black and white and various uses of sepia, the Aero series is observations in form, shape, design of what Baeder considers aerial sculptures and some of the finest engineering of the 20th century.

Of course, any exhibition on John Baeder and his career would be incomplete without his diner paintings. Made in watercolor and oil over the course of his career, the diner paintings are Baeder’s most known and acclaimed works. As Jay Williams elegantly explains in the new book, Baeder “was able to subtly convey that each diner or mom-and-pop eatery was at the heart, or was the hearth, of its community—a skill far more important than simply recording the transitory details of roadside subjects.”

After spending nearly 50 years on the road, the last decade has seen Baeder looking inward and using, once again, his camera to do so. This time he turned his lens towards still lifes, creating arrangements from faux vegetables, fruits, and flowers. Biographical elements of various books, magazines, and objets are included with die cast model automobiles, bringing reality and illusion together again. With dark backgrounds and illuminated with northern light, they resemble Baroque Dutch still lifes but with a quintessential Baeder edge with elements of travel, collecting, and personal history. 

John Baeder has been a first-person storyteller in words and pictures. The stories have varied, the method for telling them has changed, but each image has been made with an eye for engaging design nearly unrivaled in more than 50 years. “John Baeder: Work from1962 to 2015” is the chance to share in these stories.