Donald Baechler

A work by Donald Baechler at the Contemporary auction 11 May

Donald Baechler, A life without pocket change

Lot no 1127

A life without pocket change
Signed and dated verso. Acrylic and collage on canvas.

To be sold at Contemporary 11 May.

To catalogue

For more information or condition report please contact:

Marc Maurie,
+46 8 453 67 56

Ebba de Faire,
+46 8 453 67 35

Donald Baechler’s creative process originates in multitudes of collected pictures and objects; a personal archive of photography, looking and collecting. His paintings are concentrated versions of this process, built up in layers and fragments to create what he calls “an illusion of history”. With a large amount of humour, he has created a symbolic sign language that interprets popular culture, and with it a position in art history among the second generation of pop artists.

Donald Baechler was born in Connecticut, USA in 1956 and trained at Cooper Union in New York. As an emerging artist in New York in 1980, he stepped into a wild art scene bursting with vitality. This was a place of powerful agendas competing for space; film art, appropriation art, the new expressionistic painting, feminist art and graffiti. What all these streams had in common was that they created a kind of synthesis between art and popular culture. This was the age that coined the term superstar and the artists that made their breakthrough during this decade are some of the most sought-after of our time.

The bad boy of the art world, Tony Shafrazi, was one of the key gallery owners of the early 1980s and with a nose for the latest trend, he raised the profile of artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Kenny Sharf and Donald Baechler. These artists brought street art into the salons, were revolting against the establishment and power structures and were just as eager to express themselves in public spaces as in the space of the gallery. The works often combined abstraction with figuration, historical information with contemporary criticism and Donald Baechler and his generation found universal forms of expression to describe the time in which they lived.

In the painting in the auction Baechler’s unique working process can be seen in the uninterrupted collecting, accumulation and sorting that is then recreated, interpreted and combined. His method starts out from a self-created catalogue of stencils and the process is visible in the underlying structures of the painting. Different layers have created fractures in the surface, bringing out the physical and visual complexity. The subject that is revealed rests on an accumulated underlying typography. The pronounced pictures of beach balls and the man in a cap conjure up ideas of cartoon figures, old tattoos and graffiti. In this painting Baechler conveys his unique form of expression and with his recognisable graphical iconography he has created a universal language for our time.

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