"Get There First, Decide Promptly" by Jennifer Farrell

Get There First, Decide Promptly The Richard Brown Baker Collection of Postwar Art Jennifer Farrell, Thomas Crow, Serge Guilbaut, Jan Howard, Robert Storr, Judith Tannenbaum

Publication date:
21 Feb 2012
Yale University Art Gallery
372 pages: 279 x 229mm
195 color + 13 b-w illus.

Richard Brown Baker (1912-2002) began collecting works by emerging artists in the 1940s, becoming one of the first collectors to actively embrace both Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art and eventually amassing more than 1,600 works from the postwar period. Represented among these are groundbreaking American artists such 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, Kurt Schwitters, and Jiro Yoshihara. 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 Thomas Crow, Serge Guilbaut, Robert Storr, and others 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.

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

"This lavish catalogue documents his superb collection, ensures [Richard Brown Baker] a place in the annals of American art history, and provides a fitting public memorial to a man who often shunned the limelight… [Baker’s journals] open up a highly personal, and much welcome, perspective on the art and culture of these years." David McCarthy, Cassone

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