Carl Hammer Gallery is honored, once again, to present legendary artist, Don Baum, in an exhibition of art work spanning the past sixty years. Perhaps known best for his Domus series, a body of re-constructed constructions, Baum’s life-long employment of the art of assemblage uniquely and successfully analyzed all of that which makes us human. Combining any number of found objects (dolls, boxes, bread boards, paint-by-number paintings, game boards, etc.), Baum’s vision is often linked to the likes of Joseph Cornell, Louise Bourgeois, H.C. Westermann, and others. But his work is both distinct and different. For Baum, construction techniques were more simply a means to an end than an aspect of content itself. Likewise, sculptural issues are overshadowed in his work by a concern for meaning; formal relationships, while certainly considered, are always secondary to the artist’s preoccupation with the potential for emotive or psychological impact.
Since the late forties, Don Baum has influenced the art landscape of Chicago as artist, curator, scholar, collector, and educator alike. His ability to identify the promise of a host of emerging Chicago artists has won him the admiration of artists and collectors citywide. In his own art, Baum challenged audiences through his focus on the incorporation of collected elements and by challenging accepted societal and academic taboos and norms. In his own words, Baum acknowledges I’m very nonintellectual about my work. I put things together intuitively. Such a frank embrace of intuitive procedures and his declared “nonintellectual” approach have often obscured the true complexity of his enterprise. Engaged by art history, ethnology, language, literature, psychoanalysis, every form of creative expression, and above all by people themselves and their endless idiosyncrasies, Baum brings a high quotient of intellect to his unconsciously generated images. It has been a true reward to have had the benefit of such profound enrichment these past six decades.