Spotlight: Abstract Expressionist Alice Baber Is Celebrated in a New Texas Exhibition

Jody Klotz Fine Art presents "Alice Baber: Colors of the Rainbow" in Abilene, Texas.

Alice Baber, Blue on Top (ca. 1966). Courtesy of Jody Klotz Fine Art, Abilene, Texas.

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What You Need to Know: Based in Abilene, Texas, Jody Klotz Fine Art is currently presenting “Alice Baber: Colors of the Rainbow,” the gallery’s debut solo exhibition of paintings by the late artist. The show is the result of a multi-year endeavor of tireless research and acquisition by Klotz herself, reflecting a deep commitment to both Baber’s work as well as the need to reevaluate her position within the art historical canon—and standing amongst fellow female Abstract Expressionists. Comprised of 28 paintings and works on paper dated between 1960 and 1982, “Colors of the Rainbow” provides a sweeping look into Baber’s artistic development and unique approach to color and form. The show is accompanied by a fully illustrated, 116-page exhibition catalogue featuring an essay by Gail Levin, Ph.D., biographer of such artists as Judy Chicago and Lee Krasner, the first major scholarship on Baber, which precedes Levin’s forthcoming biography on the artist.

Installation view of an abstract painting with the exhibition title "Alice Baber: Colors of the Rainbow" in vinyl on the wall above, and a row of exhibition catalogues off to the side.

Installation view with Alice Baber, Ax in the Grove (1966). Courtesy of Jody Klotz Fine Art, Abilene, Texas.

About the Artist: Alice Baber (1928–1982) initially studied art at the Lindenwood College for Women in St. Charles, Missouri, before completing her undergraduate education at Indiana University. In the summer of 1951, Baber studied briefly at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Fountainbleau, France. The following fall, she moved to New York City and was immersed in the thriving art scene, encountering many of the heavy hitters of the Abstract Expressionist movement at venues such as the renowned Cedar Bar and the Club. She was a founding member of the March Gallery, one of the famous 10th Street artist-run co-ops, having her first solo show there in 1958, and helped organize panels at the Club. From 1959–1968 the artist began spending half of every year in Paris. Following this period, she continued to travel the world extensively, as well as exhibiting her work in the U.S. and abroad. She also taught at several national universities, worked for the United States Information Agency (U.S.I.A.), and wrote on such artists like Sonia Delunay and Arshile Gorky. A true colorist, Baber’s work operated as a proverbial bridge between Abstract Expressionism and Color Field painting, the importance of which is reflected in the number of prestigious institutional permanent collections it has been acquired by, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and the National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan.

Gallerist Jody Klotz sitting next to a colorful abstract painting inside the exhibition of works by Alice Baber.

Jody Klotz seated next to Alice Baber, Hermit in the Cave of Light (1976). Courtesy of Jody Klotz Fine Art, Abilene, Texas.

Why We Like It: “Alice Baber: Colors of the Rainbow” marks the most expansive gallery showing of Baber’s work since her untimely death at the age of 54 in 1982 and presents an unparalleled opportunity to explore her practice. Baber’s effervescent color schemes evoke themes of nature and memory, the latter of which she cited as a primary source of inspiration, and the manner in which she translates her exploration of color through both oil on canvas and watercolor on paper underscores her mastery. And with large-scale paintings such as Hermit in the Cave of Light (1976) juxtaposed with more intimately sized compositions, the exhibition speaks to the breadth of Baber’s creative imagination. The elements of both Abstract Expressionism and Color field painting are apparent throughout the show, highlighting how uniquely situated her contribution to the trajectory of modern art was—and illustrates the strength of Klotz’s pursuit in bringing Baber’s oft-overlooked oeuvre back to the limelight.

See featured works below.

Alice Baber, Where They Meet (1963). Courtesy of Jody Klotz Fine Art, Abilene, Texas.

Alice Baber, Where They Meet (1963). Courtesy of Jody Klotz Fine Art, Abilene, Texas.

Alice Baber, Just Arrived (1962). Courtesy of Jody Klotz Fine Art, Abilene, Texas.

Alice Baber, As a Matter (1961). Courtesy of Jody Klotz Fine Art, Abilene, Texas.

Alice Baber, Untitled (1981). Courtesy of Jody Klotz Fine Art, Abilene, Texas.

Alice Baber: Colors of the Rainbow” is on view at Jody Klotz Fine Art, Abilene, Texas.

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