JOSH BAER, PUBLISHER AND CURATOR

by leslierankowfinearts

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JOSH BAER HAS BEEN WRITING AND PUBLISHING THE BAER FAXT SINCE 1995.  A PRIVATE ART ADVISOR SINCE 1994, JOSH FIRST ESTABLISHED HIS PRESENCE IN THE ART WORLD AS THE  DIRECTOR OF WHITE COLUMNS, THE HIGHLY RESPECTED FLAGSHIP ALTERNATIVE SPACE IN NEW YORK, INTRODUCING ARTISTS WHO WERE NOT WELL-KNOWN AT THE TIME AND PRESCIENT ABOUT THEIR TALENT AND POTENTIAL.  HE THEN LAUNCHED A COMMERCIAL GALLERY SPACE AND REPRESENTED MAJOR INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS.  THUS, THE BAER FAXT REFLECTS BOTH  JOSH’S KNOWLEDGE AND PERSPECTIVE AS AN ART JOURNALIST AND
HIS SEASONED PERSPECTIVE  ON THE ART MARKET AND ART WORLD.

BECOME A SUBSCRIBER, IF YOU AREN’T ALREADY.  YOU’LL BE DELIGHTED WITH THE  IMMEDIACY OF THE INFORMATION ON AUCTION RESULTS AND BUYERS AS WELL AS  GALLERY AND MUSEUM CHANGES AND APPOINTMENTS. http://www.baerfaxt.com/index.htm

JOSH, IT IS A PLEASURE TO CONTINUE OUR CONVERSATION.

AT WHAT POINT DID YOU DECIDE TO PUBLISH “THE BAER FAXT”?  HOW DO YOU UNEARTH THE VAST AMOUNT OF INFORMATION THAT YOU MAKE AVAILABLE TO YOUR READERSHIP?

I closed the gallery in 1994 during a prolonged art market crash that started in 1990. I needed to make a living and had the idea for The Baer Faxt in the shower.

Initially I asked Jerry Saltz to write it  – he said  should do it myself. I partnered with Art& Auction for  2 months and then they bailed so I just launched late 1994.

HOW WAS THE BAER FAXT  ORIGINALLY STRUCTURED ON A PRACTICAL LEVEL?

As an art advisor (which I also was starting 1994) I had/have info that a journalist on the outside of the market didn’t have – plus I had a fast system to publish (the fax machine)

IS IT A SUBSCRIPTION BASED NEWSLETTER, ONLY AN E-LETTER OR IN PRINT FORM AS WELL?  I KNOW THAT THE BAER FAXT HAS AN INTERNATIONAL ROSTER OF READERS. HOW TO YOU REACH OUT TO THE ART PUBLIC TO INFORM THEM OF THE NEWSLETTER AND ITS AVAILABILITY?

I do no marketing for the Baer Faxt – it’s just word of mouth.

AS AN ADVISOR, DO YOU TEND TO WORK WITH COLLECTORS INTERESTED IN ESTABLISHED MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY MASTERS OR MORE CUTTING-EDGE CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS OR A MIX OF BOTH?

As an advisor I am lucky that each of my clients seems to have different needs and tastes from classic to emerging. I do best with either those who have little or no knowledge (and know it) or those with a lot of knowledge who want a dialogue.

YOU HAVE SUCCESSFULLY ASSUMED AN ACTIVE ROLE AS A CURATOR AS WELL.  I CONSIDER THIS A PARTICULARLY  AMBITIOUS  UNDERTAKING SINCE IT INVOLVES  SO MANY ELEMENTS. INITIALLY, YOU HAVE TO COME UP WITH AN ORIGINAL IDEA BUT THEN YOU HAVE TO  CONTACT THE ARTISTS, BORROW THE WORKS, AND ORCHESTRATE THE INSTALLATION, CATALOGUE AND  MOMENTUM  OF THE SHOW.  I ASSUME THAT, IN PART, THIS ABILITY  STEMS FROM YOUR CAREER AS A GALLERIST, CURATING EXHIBITIONS FOR THE JOSH BAER GALLERY?

I do shows at places like Gagosian, Matthew Marks, Zwirner & Wirth, etc. when I have a good idea – the have all the infrastructure as I am a one person shop.

WHAT FOLLOWS IS AN EXCERPT FROM BLOUIN ART INFO OF A REVIEW OF THE EXHIBITION THAT JOSH CURATED IN GAGOSIAN’S ELEGANT GENEVA GALLERY ON HIS MOTHER’S WORK, A TRIBUTE TO HER MARVELOUS TALENT AND HIS REFINED CURATORIAL EYE. IN MAY OF THIS YEAR, AN EXHIBITION OF WORK BY JO BAER, ENTITLED “JO BAER: IN THE LAND OF THE GIANTS”, WILL OPEN AT THE PRESTIGIOUS STEDLIJK MUSEUM IN AMSTERDAM.

Not everyone knows the name of Jo Baer, the ex-pat Minimalist painter known for her sleek white linen, black-bordered paintings of the 1960s and 1970s. After all, she currently lives in Amsterdam, though she earned her New York stripes decades ago as a cutting-edge downtown artist during a bygone era when even great women artists, such as Agnes Martin and Nancy Spero, were mostly cast to the sidelines. However, almost everyone in the New York art world does know of Josh Baer, the founder of the Baer Faxt, the info-packed art newsletter.

A WONDERFUL EXHIBITION ON GERMAN DESIGN AS NOTED IN ARTNET DESIGN…

THE BAER FAXT ABOUT GERMAN DESIGN? Also of note currently in Chelsea is “German Avant-Garde Design of the 1980s,” Nov. 6-Dec. 20, 2008, at Demisch Danant. The show focuses on the heady interplay between German designers and artists in the 1980s, juxtaposing artworks by Helmut Federle, Gunther Forg and Imi Knoebel with design pieces by innovative German designers like Volker Albus, Cocktail, Wolfgang Laubersheimer, Moebel Perdu, Pentagon, Herbert Jakob and Weinand.

The special interest for cognoscenti is that the whole affair is curated by Josh Baer, the man behind the auction-world insider newsletter the Baer Faxt. Given that Baer has recently been quoted as saying that he has definitively been converted to a “bear” on the contemporary art market, could he be looking for a sideline in classic design? (Baer, actually, is a curator of some repute, having put together a Chris Burden show at Zwirner & Wirth in 2004, for instance.)

AND AN EXHIBIT OF THE BRILLIANT CHRIS BURDEN AT ZWIRNER AND WIRTH in 2004.

 In this  exhibition of early work by Chris Burden, Zwirner and Wirth presents the Deluxe Photo Book 1971-1973 accompanied by six “Relics” from performances staged between 1972 and 1980. 

The Mythology of Chris Burden is well-known in art world circles. Chris Burden and his work emerged in the early 1970s in Los Angeles   amidst a growing environment of “alternative” art forms and groups including earth, body, video performance and conceptual art.

THE MOST RECENT CURATORIAL PROJECT THAT JOSH REALIZED WAS AN EXCEPTIONAL  GROUP SHOW ENTITLED “NOT CALIFORNIAN”  AT SOTHEBY’S TERRIFIC GALLERY, S2,  NEW YORK.  IN RESPONSE TO A MONUMENTAL EXHIBITION AT THE GETTY “PACIFIC STANDARD TIME”. IN OUR NEXT BLOG, JOSH WILL DETAIL THE SCOPE OF THE EXHIBITION, HIS MOTIVATION IN ORGANIZING IT AND HIS PERSPECTIVE ON THE DYNAMICS OF THE CURRENT ART WORLD.

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS YOU WOULD LIKE JOSH TO ANSWER, PLEASE SEND THEM ALONG. IN THE MEANTIME, THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR READERSHIP, COMMENTS AND SUPPORT.