New York

Jo Baer, Graph-Paper Painting, 1962–63, oil on canvas, 36 x 36".

Jo Baer, Graph-Paper Painting, 1962–63, oil on canvas, 36 x 36".

“Jo Baer: The Minimalist Years, 1960–1975”

Dia Center for the Arts

Viewed in reproduction, the early paintings of Jo Baer can make a misleading first impression. They might appear impassive, even “noncommittal,” to repeat a term used by John Ashbery when he reviewed Baer’s first solo show in 1966. Seen in person at Dia Center for the Arts’s current exhibition of Baer’s “Minimalist Years,” however, those paintings seem quite the opposite. They are grand, open, elegant things, and while these luminescent canvases are often pleasing to the eye, they are just as often satisfying to the intellect.

Dia showcases some of Baer’s most splendid efforts from the ’60s and ’70s, many of which address the instability of painting as a medium. Framing broad white rectangles of paint with dark bars of black outlines, for example, many of Baer’s seemingly blank tableaux enact the simultaneous acknowledgment and denial of the canvas (or any support) common to the normative

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