Alice Baber


"The Door to the Gate to the Bridge," 1975

Oil on canvas
Signed in white pigment that is visible under blacklight: Baber; signed again, titled, and dated, verso
34" H x 54" W

  • 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.

    Speaking of Baber's work in the San Francisco Chronicle in 1976, the art critic Thomas Albright noted:

    "Baber's abstractions are made up of broad, lobular shapes that resemble rounded beach stones. These become scaffolds for applications of richly harmonized oil colors, some full and intense, others vaporous and transparent, unified by a softness of surface that resembles the sensitive touch of a pianist…

    "The musical analogy extends to the movement that these forms appear to undergo, sometimes crowded and compacted… but more often flowing and gliding in complex, swirling rhythms and counter-rhythms, advancing and receding in depth like the currents and cross-currents in a pool of water fed by a hidden spring."

    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: Overall good condition. Areas of craquelure throughout, the largest measuring 6" horizontally near the lower edge, right of center, in the blue pigment. Pinhead-sized flecks of grime in the upper right quadrant towards the center, in the middle of the lower left quadrant, and in the upper left quadrant in the yellow pigment. Three small scuff marks, one towards the center at the upper edge and two in the upper right quadrant.

    Blacklight: No evidence of restoration.

    Frame: 35" H x 55" W x 1.5" D

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August 29, 2023 12:00 PM PDT
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