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Get There First, Decide Promptly: The Richard Brown Baker Collection of Postwar Art

Jennifer Farrell
With essays by Thomas Crow, Serge Guilbaut, Jan Howard, Robert Storr, and Judith Tannenbaum
Contributions by Ágnes Berecz, Susan Greenberg Fisher, Jennifer R. Gross, and J. Fiona Ragheb
Chronology by Elise K. Kenney with Gabriella Svenningsen Omonte

2013 Sotheby’s Book Prize for a Distinguished Publication on the History of Collecting in America, The Frick’s Center for the History of Collecting

This lavish catalogue documents [Baker’s] superb collection, ensures him a place in the annals of American art history, and provides a fitting public memorial to a man who often shunned the limelight. —David McCarthy, Cassone

Richard Brown Baker (1912–2002, B.A. 1935) began collecting works by emerging artists in the 1940s, becoming one of the first collectors to actively embrace both Abstract Expressionism and Pop art. He eventually amassed a collection of more than 1,600 works from the postwar period, including works by such groundbreaking American artists as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Chuck Close, Franz Kline, 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 Jirō 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, in Providence. Highlighting 130 works, Get There First, Decide Promptly is the first complete history of Baker’s important collection. Essays by renowned art historians Thomas Crow, Serge Guilbaut, and 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.

Buy online from Yale University Press

372 pages / 9 x 11 inches / 195 color and 13 black-and-white illustrations / Distributed by Yale University Press / 2011
  • Paper over board ISBN 978-0-300-15302-6
    Price $50; Members $40