1930 Clarence Horning Trade Mark Book with 1934 Packard

1930 Clarence Horning Trade Mark Book with 1934 Packard

Who doesn’t love magic. Reality and illusion, what the photo-realist’s are all about. We push reality bringing ourselves to our images taking the photograph and using it as a stepping stone enhancing the painting, and the entire process.

The digital revolution is upon us in full force, it’s inescapable. I can’t use slide film anymore and put the slide into the projector as many of us have been doing for many years. Technology is shameful. Acceptance is a menacing. The advent of Photoshop has altered visual consciousness to the point of necessity. It can be a useful tool for some. Others use it to their advantage where it becomes a visual lie. Some may disagree vehemently,I care less. In fact, careless is what happens with most who use it and think their creations are improved. We all did fine before it’s advent, we can do fine now. So, I’m a purist a result from my age? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Visual integrity is on the stand of justice.

Back to reality and illusion. I’ve always been fascinated with faux flowers, vegetables, and fruit. The real look fake, the fake look real.

With that fascination I have always been enamored with traditional still life….what I wanted to get away from in the kitchen window sill series.

I did not want to paint traditional still life’s using faux elements. One can not distinguish the two in painting, however in pure photography the magic is in front of the viewer. “Traditional” faux elements are not enough. Another visual jolt is needed. My passion for collecting realistic, faux if you please, 1:24th scale vintage model cars and trucks joined together with fruits, vegetables, and flowers pushes still life in another direction similar to the kitchen window sill series with the exception that doing a painting would make no sense. Pure, unaltered photography does. Juxtaposing the models with the “traditional” elements, using only north light paying homage to many painters too numerous to mention, the visual jolt presents itself.

Are the flowers real? Is the automobile “photoshopped” into the image (as most would expect these days) and why is it there to begin with? The mixture of passions is the answer. Others will question and come to their own conclusions.–John Baeder


John Baeder is best known for his popular paintings and prints of roadside diners. Baeder creates images that successfully capture the essence of American daily life and elevate the everyday establishments that were once at the heart of American material culture. 

John was born on December 24, 1938 in South Bend, Indiana, but was then raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He attended Auburn University in the late 1950s. He developed a love for small towns on the back roads to and from Atlanta to Auburn. After graduating, Baeder began his career as an award-winning art director in New York, while continuing to paint, draw and photograph on his own time. He left advertising in early 1972 to paint full time. Baeder began painting the roadside diners and eateries that fascinated him during long road trips when he was young— and he hasn’t stopped since. The paintings represent Baeder’s quest for preservation, the iconic diner being at the forefront of his passionate interests. They are a loving tribute to the character of small towns and the one of a kind restaurants that used to dot the country but that are quickly disappearing today.

After spending nearly five decades on the road, in recent years Baeder has been looking inward and using his camera once again. This time he turned his lens to still lifes, creating arrangements from faux vegetables, fruits, and flowers. Biographical elements of various books, magazines, and objects are included with die cast model automobiles, bringing reality and illusion together. They have a quintessential Baeder edge with elements of travel, collecting, and personal history. Baeder says, “Capturing the essence and spirit of each individual element and then making a whole entire statement is what I strive to achieve with each image.”

John’s work has been featured in over 30 solo exhibitions in galleries in the United States and abroad. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the High Museum of Art, the Denver Museum of Art, and many more. John is a published author of several books about his work, including Diners, 1978 (updated in 1995), Gas, Food, and Lodging, 1982, and Sign Language, 1996. Recently released and penned by Jay Williams, art historian and museum curator, John Baeder’s Road Well Taken tells the story of John’s life and incredible career.

Contact: www.johnbaeder.com