Alice Baber


"Light Ladder," 1966

Oil on canvas
Signed lower right: Baber
31.5" H x 39" W

  • Provenance: Private Collection, New York, NY
    Sold: Sotheby's, New York, NY, "Contemporary Art Online," March 7, 2019, Lot 455
    Private Collection, California, acquired from the above
  • Notes: Alice Baber, who was born in Charleston, Illinois in 1928, began exhibiting her work in New York City in 1957 when she was included in the Stable Gallery's Sixth Annual Exhibition of New York artists. Baber, as one of the approximately twenty women included on the Annual's extensive roster, was shown alongside Grace Hartigan, Louise Nevelson, Lee Krasner, Mary Abbott, Joan Mitchell, and Elaine de Kooning. While many of the male artists featured in this exhibition have been recognized as key figures of the Abstract Expressionist movement, Baber – who died at the age of fifty-four in 1982 – has long been overlooked by museums and the art market at large.

    Throughout her career, Baber experimented with different mediums, including oil paint, watercolor, and printmaking. Her paintings often featured organic forms, flowing lines, and translucent layers of color, creating a sense of depth and movement. She was particularly fascinated by the interplay of light and color, and this became a central theme in her artistic exploration.

    Baber's art evolved over time, and by the 1960s, she had fully embraced abstraction. "Light Ladder," painted in 1966, is executed in Baber's signature style which involved pouring diluted paint onto the canvas and manipulating it with brushes and other tools. This technique allowed her to create luminous, ethereal compositions that seemed to radiate with inner light. In this work, she employed a restrained color palette, favoring subtle tones and delicate hues. Through her use of color, Baber conveyed a sense of tranquility and harmony, inviting viewers to engage with the contemplative qualities of her art.

    Baber was diagnosed with cancer in the late 1970s and continued to paint until her death on February 2, 1982, in New York City. Her work is held in numerous public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Today, she is recognized as an important figure in the development of abstract art in the United States and is celebrated for her unique and innovative style.

    Alice Baber's work has been exhibited alongside many key members of the Abstract Expressionist movement, including (but not limited to):

    Mary Abbott, William Baziotes, Norman Bluhm, Louise Bourgeoise, Friedel Dzubas, Perle Fine, Sam Francis, Helen Frankenthaler, Dorothy Gillespie, Sam Gilliam, Michael Goldberg, Adolph Gottlieb, Grace Hartigan, Hans Hofmann, Paul Jenkins, Ray Johnson, Franz Kline, Elaine de Kooning, Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Morris Louis, Joan Mitchell, Robert Motherwell, Robert Natkin, Louise Nevelson, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Charlotte Park, Ray Parker, Betty Parsons, Jackson Pollock, Richard Pousette-Dart, Ad Reinhardt, Milton Resnick, David Smith, Theodoros Stamos, Alma Woodsey Thomas, Bob Thompson, Jack Tworkov, Esteban Vicente

    Select Museum Collections:
    Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
    Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
    San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
    Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA
    Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
    Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

    For additional information on the historical context of this painting, please see Joan Marter, Women of Abstract Expressionism, published by the Denver Art Museum in conjunction with Yale University Press, 2016.
  • Condition: Condition report available upon request.

    Condition reports are offered as a courtesy and are typically published in Moran's catalogue or can be made available upon request. The absence of a condition report does not imply that an item is free from defects or restoration, nor does a reference to particular defects imply the absence of others. Buyers are responsible for determining to their own satisfaction the true nature and condition of any lot prior to bidding. Though buyers are not legally required to inspect lots prior to purchase, failure to do so may constitute a waiver of complaint that an item was not delivered in a condition equal to the existent condition at the auction.

Accepted Forms of Payment:

American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Money Order / Cashiers Check, Personal Check, Visa, Wire Transfer


Shipping. As a courtesy to buyers, Moran provides a list of preferred shippers who are in the business of transporting antiques and works of art. Buyers are responsible for arranging their own shipping estimates and deliveries. Moran, in its sole discretion and as a courtesy to buyers, may arrange to have purchased lots packed, insured, and forwarded by a third-party shipper at the request, expense, and risk of the buyer. In circumstances where Moran arranges for such third-party services, Moran may apply an administration charge of 15% of that service fee. Moran assumes no responsibility for acts or omissions in such packing or shipping by other packers or carriers, even if recommended by Moran. Moran also assumes no responsibility for any damage to picture frames or to the glass therein.

June 13, 2023 12:00 PM PDT
Monrovia, CA, US

John Moran Auctioneers

You agree to pay a buyer's premium of up to 25% and any applicable taxes and shipping.

View full terms and conditions

Bid Increments
From: To: Increments:
$0 $499 $25
$500 $999 $50
$1,000 $1,999 $100
$2,000 $4,999 $250
$5,000 $9,999 $500
$10,000 $19,999 $1,000
$20,000 $49,999 $2,500
$50,000 $99,999 $5,000
$100,000 $199,999 $10,000
$200,000 $499,999 $25,000
$500,000 + $50,000