Alan Douglas Baker

b. 1914, Sydney, Australia
d. 1987, Sydney, Australia

Alan Baker began studying art at the J. S. Watkins School in Sydney when he was 13 years old.  After completing his training, he spent the years leading up to World War II as an instructor at the School.  Following military service, Baker resumed his fine art practice and also developed a successful career as a commercial artist during the 1940s and 1950s. 

During the early years of his career Baker's focus was on portraiture and landscape painting.  It was only later that he began to produce still life and flower paintings, as he explained, "to fill in periods when the weather was too inclement to paint landscape or when I had the urge to paint at night."[1]  Before long, however, his flower paintings began to enter the market and immediately drew the attention of commercial gallerists and collectors alike.  By the 1970s and 1980s it was not uncommon for exhibitions of Baker's works to sell out prior to opening night and for there to be waiting lists of collectors eager to purchase his paintings. 

Baker's expertise in portraiture guided his approach to flower painting.  His flower paintings are sometimes referred to as flower portraits.  He wrote:

"To paint a good floral, in my experience, needs a portrait approach.  The subtlety of skin is akin to the delicate colour of a flower.  The technique needs to be masterly to capture flowers at their best .."[2] 

Baker's flower paintings are alive with colour and light, and with the movement of his brushstrokes in thick glossy paint.  While they reflect his belief in the importance of study and technique, they are not fussy works, or aloof academic studies.  Baker's flower paintings are vital and living works, each individual and each painted from life.

Baker was a regular finalist in the Archibald Prize between 1936 and 1972.  He was a Fellow and Vice President of the Royal Art Society of NSW and was regularly included in the Society's group shows.  Baker was represented by Morley and Torda Fine Art Gallery in Sydney, as well as Marodian Gallery and Town Gallery in Brisbane.  He also exhibited at Sedon Galleries in Melbourne, the Forum Club, Beard Watson's Gallery, Copperfield Gallery and Proud's Gallery in Sydney and the Hesley Gallery in Canberra, amongst many others. 

The collections of the Art Gallery of NSW, the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, the Queensland Institute of Technology, the Hinton Collection in Armidale all hold works by Baker, as well as many private collections.

 

               

Notes:

[1]  Alan Baker, "From Portrait to Floral Painting" in "Alan D. Baker, 1914-1987", G. & M. Baker, Camden, NSW, 1995, p 14

[2]  Alan Baker, "From Portrait to Floral Painting" in "Alan D. Baker, 1914-1987", G. & M. Baker, Camden, NSW, 1995, p 14

 

Selected Bibliography:

Baker, Alan, Alan D. Baker, 1914-1987, G. & M. Baker, Camden, NSW, 1995

Baker, Gary, Biography: Alan Douglas Baker, www.garybaker.com.au

McK, F, New Art Exhibits, The Courier Mail, Brisbane, 5 March 1947, p 2

Catalogue for exhibition of Alan D. Baker's Work at Proud's Gallery, Sydney, 18 September 1968

Catalogue for a joint exhibition by Alan D. Baker and Gary Baker at Copperfield Gallery, Mosman, 21 October 1975