Wednesday, 16 November 2016

The diner king takes to the air


I was surprised to come across nine of these Aero paintings in the last chapter of John Baeder's Road well taken (Vendome, ISBN 9780865653191) as they seemed totally unrelated to more than four decades of his stunning diner paintings. The explanation is simple: a return to earlier times and interests. Baeder was always fascinated in flying machines and collected black and white photos in his teenage years, other interests pushed his plane passion into the background until 2014.

Page six of this catalog has a photo of his two file boxes stuffed with, maybe, several hundred photos of aircraft which flew in the thirties and forties. These graceful machines are the basis of the forty-four paintings in book. Gone is the exuberant color dazzle of Americana diners for the much more challenging reduced color palette of sepia, blue, black and white. Actually this isn't totally new territory for Baeder, some of his earliest diner paintings were in black and white based on mono postcards he collected.

Though the paintings are based on photos several seemed to vary in style, the Lockheed Vega (page fifty) and the Boeing YP-29 (page forty-one) are both predominantly sepia and with little detail contrasting with the remarkably precise detail in the beautiful mono painting of a Boeing F4B-4 (page sixty-nine). Incidentally these landscape paintings are big, mostly twenty-four by thirty-six inches.

If you couldn't get to the Fort Wayne Museum of Art to see these intriguing Aero paintings (November 2016-January 2017) this pleasantly designed catalog will be a good record.


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