AMERICAN, b. 1956
Donald Baechler, a member of the East Village art scene in 1980s New York, is known for his painting-collage-drawing works depicting of childhood imagery and nostalgic ephemera like grammar school primers, old maps, and children’s drawings, or purposely cliché motifs such as a skull, a rose, a globe, and a soccer ball. Although critics have suggested that Baechler’s work, reminiscent of Jean Dubuffet, is a critique of innocence and sincerity, Baechler sees himself as an abstract artist whose concerns are primarily formal, rooted in line, shape, color, and composition.
Baechler’s early work was noted for childlike imagery and thematics—associations which have recurred throughout his career. “Like Art Brut,” wrote Steven Vincent in Art in America, “Donald Baechler’s seemingly ingenuous depictions of everyday objects and simple figures succeed in large part by tapping into our nostalgia for childhood, that period of life before the rivening onset of self-consciousness and guilt. It’s a myth, of course: children are hardly angelic, and alienation is the state of humanity—while Beachler’s art works hard to achieve its trademark appearance of prelapsarian sincerity and artlessness.