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Get There First, Decide Promptly

The Richard Brown Baker Collection of Postwar Art

Jennifer Farrell, Thomas Crow (Contributions by), Serge Guilbaut (Contributions by), Jan Howard (Contributions by), Robert Storr (Contributions by), Judith Tannenbaum (Contributions by)


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Richard Brown Baker (1912–2002) began collecting works by emerging artists in the 1940s, becoming one of the first collectors to embrace both Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. He eventually amassed a collection of more than 1,600 works from the postwar period, including works by such groundbreaking American artists as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Chuck Close, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Morris, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, and James Rosenquist, as well as European and Asian artists such as Alberto Burri, Jean Dubuffet, Georges Mathieu, and Kurt Schwitters. 

Baker bequeathed the majority of his collection to the Yale University Art Gallery, and the balance to the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design. Highlighting 130 works, this is the first complete history of Baker's important collection. Essays by renowned art historians contextualize each of the five decades of Baker's collecting efforts, while entries on individual artists illustrate the remarkable scope of Baker's holdings. Throughout the publication, firsthand accounts from Baker's extensive personal journals describe his collecting activities within the dynamic New York art scene of the day.

Yale University Art Gallery, 9780300153026, 372pp.

Publication Date: February 21, 2012

About the Author

Jennifer Farrell is a former assistant curator at the Yale University Art Gallery.