N.E. Thing Co., Fence, 1967. Courtesy of the artist and Corkin Gallery, Toronto. Photo: Art Gallery of Ontario.

IAIN BAXTER&, LANDSCAPE WITH SAILBOATS (Digital Code Conversion Series), 2008. Courtesy of the artist and Corkin Gallery, Toronto. Photo: Art Gallery of Ontario. © 2011 IAIN BAXTER&.

IAIN BAXTER& et al, out of a Canadian Cultural Environment

IAIN BAXTER&, Zero Emissions, 2008. Courtesy of the artist and Corkin Gallery, Toronto. Photo: Art Gallery of Ontario. © 2011 IAIN BAXTER&.

N.E. Thing Co., Nude, 1968. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Milrad, 1975. Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. Photo: Art Gallery of Ontario.

IAIN BAXTER&, Still Life with Winter Vista, 1996. Courtesy of the artist and Corkin Gallery, Toronto. Photo: Art Gallery of Ontario. © 2011 IAIN BAXTER&.

IAIN BAXTER&, Television Works (detail), 1999-2006. Promised gift of Yvonne and David Fleck, Steven and Michael Latner Families, and Eleanor and Francis Shen. Photo: Art Gallery of Ontario. © 2011 IAIN BAXTER&.

IAIN BAXTER&, Still Life with Six Colours, 1965. Courtesy of the artist and Corkin Gallery, Toronto. Photo: Art Gallery of Ontario. ©2011 IAIN BAXTER&.

IAIN BAXTER&, Landscape with One Tree and Three Clouds, 1965. Gift of David P. Silcox and Linda Intaschi, 1990. Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. Photo: Art Gallery of Ontario. © 2011 IAIN BAXTER&.

IAIN BAXTER&, Still Life with Carrot, 1965. Courtesy of the artist and Corkin Gallery, Toronto. Photo: Art Gallery of Ontario. © 2011 IAIN BAXTER&.

 

Museum of Contemporary Art
220 East Chicago Avenue
312-280-2660
Chicago
IAIN BAXTER&: WORKS 1958-2011
November 5, 2011-January 15, 2012

IAIN BAXTER&: Works 1958-2011 is the first retrospective of one of Canada’s most compelling artists. Iain Baxter legally changed his name to IAIN BAXTER& in 2005. He appended an ampersand to his name to underscore that art is about connectivity and collaboration with the viewer. Co-curated by David Moos and MCA James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator Michael Darling, and organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario, IAIN BAXTER&: Works 1958-2011 is a survey of all major phases of his work.

BAXTER&'s consistent emphasis on reaching out to the viewer; his core concern with ecology and the environment; and his belief that art must be made in many kinds of media, inform BAXTER&’s early understanding that “art is all over.” Collapsing the boundaries between art, commerce, and everyday life, BAXTER&’s ever-changing body of work over the past 50 years has not fit traditional art historical categories. This exhibition assesses the remarkable achievements of BAXTER&’s radically open creativity, and establishes his reputation in conceptual art, photography, and installation art.

In 1966, BAXTER& formed a collaborative art-making partnership called IT Works which then evolved into N. E. Thing Company Limited, or NETCO, a corporate-styled entity whose co-presidents were BAXTER& and his then-wife Ingrid. The N. E. Thing Company offered a new model of art production, allowing the artists to remain anonymous and masquerade in the guise of business people.

In 1970, N.E. Thing Company participated in the International Data Processing Conference in Seattle, a technology industry trade fair, dispensing creative and inspirational counseling from a standard booth. This innovative crossing of boundaries reflected NETCO’s conviction that art may best be understood not as objects but as Visual Sensitivity Information — aesthetic and experiential insight transmitted through a variety of media. This approach shows Baxter&’s deep embrace of media theory developed by Marshall McLuhan.

N.E. Thing Company was prolific and influential, producing a diverse array of projects that humorously appropriated and subverted the corporate paradigm and commented on art and art making. Their work included conceptually based photography, pioneering works of appropriation art, and gallery transforming installations before NETCO dissolved in 1978.

After NETCO, BAXTER&’s artistic production involved neon signs, ‘animal preserves,’ a grocery cart of genetically modified organisms, and installations using obsolete technology. He also produced extensive bodies of work with Polaroid film, created numerous installations that blended painting and sculpture, and made teaching a focus of his creative enterprise. At the University of British Columbia, BAXTER& had experimented with non-verbal teaching methods, and throughout the 1990s he continued to explore radical teaching techniques.

Despite the diverse range and originality of his work over five decades, BAXTER& has stayed with certain themes: ideas (how to think about art), the environment (how to inhabit and treat it), commercial systems and everyday objects, and for art that is accessible and free of polish. His work is often: landscapes (urban, suburban, and rural), still lifes (household utensils, tools, furniture, food, industrial products) and figures (people, animals).

BAXTER& was born in England in 1936, and emigrated with his family to Calgary in Alberta, Canada, in 1937. He currently lives and works in Windsor. He received a BS in zoology (1959) and a Master of Education (1962) from the University of Idaho. He studied art and aesthetics in Japan in 1961, and got an MFA at Washington State University in 1964. He has taught at Washington State University (1962-64), the University of British Columbia (1964-66), Simon Fraser University (1966-71), York University (1972, 1974-76), Emily Carr University of Art and Design (1978-79), Alberta College of Art and Design (1981-82, 1985-88), and the University of Windsor (1988-present). BAXTER& is the recipient of numerous awards, including an Officer of the Order of Canada (2003), a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts (2004), the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize (2005), the Gershon Iskowitz Prize at the Art Gallery of Ontario (2006), and the Companion to the Order of British Columbia (2007).

IAIN BAXTER&, Paris Beauty Spots: Tour Eiffel, 1980. Purchased 1985 with funds provided by the Alberta 1980's Endowment Fund. From the University of Lethbridge Art Collection. Photo: Jane Edmundson, University of Lethbridge Art Gallery. © 2011 IAIN BAXTER&.

IAIN BAXTER&, 2011, Photo: Julie Sando.

IAIN BAXTER&, Reflected Paris Beauty Spots (Tour Eiffel), 1980. Purchased 1985 with funds provided by the Alberta 1980's Endowment Fund. From the University of Lethbridge Art Collection. Photo: Jane Edmunson, University of Lethbridge Art Gallery. © 2011 IAIN BAXTER&.

N.E. Baxter Thing Co., Bagged Landscape with Water, 1966. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. H.A. Malcolmson, 1985. Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. Photo: Art Gallery of Ontario.

N.E. Thing Co., Inflated Blue Sky, 1970. Purchase, 1970. Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. Photo: Art Gallery of Ontario.

IAIN BAXTER&, Landscape with Cirrus Cloud, 1965. Courtesy of the artist and Corkin Gallery, Toronto. Photo: Art Gallery of Ontario. © 2011 IAIN BAXTER&.

N.E. Thing Co., Still Life with 6 Trucks, Highway 1, Saskatchewan, 1968. Gift of IAIN BAXTER& and Ingrid Baxter, 1995. Collection of the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, The University of British Columbia. Photo: Michael Barrick, Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery.