Art Institute to Present Monika Baer Exhibit, Begin. 10/24
The Art Institute of Chicago is pleased to present the first museum exhibition in the United States devoted to the work of Berlin-based artist Monika Baer. This presentation-on view in the Abbott Galleries (Galleries 182-184) in the museum's Modern Wing from October 24, 2013 through January 26, 2014 -includes nearly 30 paintings created between 1990 and 2013. The selection of canvases and their nonchronological groupings reflect the emphatic diversity of subject matter and the stylistic and material explorations of Baer's practice. Often called both conceptual and performative, her paintings are simultaneously spare and sensuous, oscillating between revealing and pretending to reveal themselves.
Baer studied painting at the internationally renowned Düsseldorf Art Academy from 1985 to 1992, a time when photography had been the prevailing field of study for nearly a decade. Meanwhile, the medium of painting was decidedly male dominated in Germany, and Baer's early work evidences that tension: she was an artist compelled to make paintings but as if without relevant models for what those paintings should be in that moment, in that place, and by her hand.
Shortly after leaving the academy, Baer received recognition for a series known as the Mozart paintings, two of which are in this exhibition. Highly stylized, rendered in elaborate rococo detail, and almost cinematic in scale, these paintings act as a foil for the more abstracted work that would follow.
Across the subsequent 15 years, Baer's idiosyncratic practice has been characterized as romantic, conceptual, and Surrealist-inflected. Baer moves fluidly through a wide range of subjects and recurring motifs-keyholes, spider webs, brick walls, and paper currency, for instance. She also typically works in series that overlap and inform one another, including vampire pictures (2007), breast pictures (2007-09), monochromes (2008-10), and works that have been described as "paintings on walls" (2009-12). Her most recent exhibition in Berlin contained realistically rendered metal chains and red brick walls painted with a variety of gestures, as well as heavily impastoed monochromes with small keyholes lightly floating on the surface. As Baer steadily develops new technical, formal, conceptual, and contextual challenges to her own painting, she also evades tidy critical responses.