John Baeder is best known for his popular paintings of roadside diners. His work can be found in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, the Norton Museum of Art, the Denver Art Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the High Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Cheekwood Museum of Art, the Tennessee State Museum, the Yale University Art Gallery, and the Morris Museum of Art among others.
He has had more than thirty solo exhibitions at art galleries such as OK Harris Gallery in New York, Modernism Gallery in San Francisco, Thomas Paul Fine Art in Los Angeles and Cumberland Gallery in Nashville.
According to John Arthur, “John Baeder is much more than a painter of diners. He is a knowledgeable and deeply committed chronicler of that rapidly disappearing facet of American vernacular architecture that has played such a unique role in our social and cultural history.” Vincent Scully, professor of the History of Art in Architecture and author, further comments on Baeder’s visual style in his introduction to Diners, 1978, stating that his “paintings seem to me to differ from most of those of his brilliant Magic-Realist contemporaries in that they are gentle, lyrical, and deeply in love with their subjects. Most of the painters of the contemporary Pop scene blow our minds with massive disjunctions, explosive changes of scale, and special kind of wink-less visual focus. Baeder does not employ any of those devices. He sees everything as its own size in its proper environment. His diners fit into their urban context like modest folk heroes.”
Baeder is the recipient of the Tennessee Governor’s Distinguished Artist Award in 2009. He lives and works in Nashville, Tennessee.
His images successfully capture the pulse of the American quotidian. Other Photorealists chose various aspects of popular eateries as subject matter for their paintings, but none with the same dedication and rigor as Baeder. It can, in fact, be argued that Baeder single handedly developed the diner image into an American icon. With tenacity and consistency he made pilgrimage after pilgrimage to capture, lovingly, first with his camera and then in paint, images of hundreds of diners across the United States.
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