Nov 5, 2011–Jan 15, 2012
The contemporary art career of IAIN BAXTER& is long, distinguished, and multifaceted, yet relatively unknown in the United States. One plausible explanation for IAIN BAXTER&’s limited traction within the short-attention-span world of contemporary art is that he has never stayed with a single visual style for long and has always found ways of pushing into new territories, making any easy summation of his activities difficult. One in a long series of experiments with naming and artistic identity was his 1965 adoption of the corporate moniker N.E. Thing Co. (aka NETCO). NETCO was an actual corporation. With BAXTER& as President and his then-wife Ingrid Baxter (b. Elaine Hieber, 1938) as Vice President, NETCO adopted artistic mischief and upsetting expectations as its mission. Producing a diverse array of projects that encompassed conceptually based photography, pioneering works of appropriation art, and gallery-transforming installations, NETCO offered a new model of art-making, allowing the artists to remain anonymous and masquerade as business people.
Collapsing the boundaries between art, commerce, and everyday life, BAXTER&’s protean and peripatetic work has unfolded over five decades and proved difficult to locate within conventional critical or art historical narratives. A relentless emphasis on reaching out to the viewer, a core concern with ecology and the environment, and a belief that art must assume plural means and media inform BAXTER&’s early credo that “art is all over.” This exhibition appraises the remarkable achievement of this artist and positions his contribution in relation to mainstream histories of conceptual art, photography, and installation art.
Organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario