Alice Baber was born on August 22, 1928. She grew up in Kansas, Illinois, and also Miami, Florida. Her family made their way to Florida every year in the winter due to Alice’s poor health, starting when she was two years of age. Alice was interested in becoming an artist even when she was a child, and she was always open to adventures of any kind, which helped to influence her painting later in life.
By age eight, Alice was already studying drawing, and by the age of twelve, she was so advanced in her skills that she was able to enroll in college classes. When World War II broke out, Alice’s family quit traveling to Florida, but Alice traveled to Florida on her own and stayed in a tent just to be able to make the annual shift to avoid the harsh winters in Illinois. She stated that this trip taught her the benefits of being a nomad.
Alice chose to study art and attended Lindenwood College For Women in Missouri. She studied here for two years and then transferred to Indiana University. There, she studied under famous figurative expressionist Alton Pickens. She got her Master of Arts by the end of 1951, then started on a trip all around Europe. She was able to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and also lived in Paris from the late 1950s through the 1960s. During her time as a traveler in Europe, she was able to make a living as the art Editor of McCall’s.
Barber is known for her female-only exhibitions, and her world travels likely influenced her commitment to this kind of art exhibit. She was also a part of the abstract expressionism movement, which was linked with liberal movements like feminism. Her commitment to the feminist movement was notable and influential, and her work related to social change made it possible for many female artists to be displayed in locations where their art would not normally have been exhibited.
Alice is officially known as a post-war feminist and lithographer. She used brilliant colors in her works, and she was officially an abstract expressionist painter. She worked in oils as well as watercolors to make her unique pieces. Her most famous painting technique is one where diluted oil paint is poured onto canvas in layers. This might be done in a single hue or also with carefully laid layers of different colored paint. This creates a very unique color experience that is not present in many other kinds of mixed-medium art.
Her earliest works were done exclusively in oils, but she began adding watercolor to her works in the 1950s. At the time that she added watercolor to her painting techniques, she also shifted her painting style. She had been painting still life works, but she made the change to abstract works when she began to work in watercolor. This shift is what led to Alice’s most famous and well-known pieces that are done with the brightness of watercolor and which include motifs like circles, as well as other shapes repeated over and over throughout her art.
Alice called her painting style, “color hunger”, and that she was always trying to explore the range of possibilities that were open to her within her craft. Her painting style was so unique that she was able to create the first solo exhibition in 1958 at the March Gallery in New York. Today, her style Is notable for displaying various stylistic trends and for pure colors that also convey a sense of movement.
As mentioned earlier, Alice became the first artist to hold a solo show in New York at the March Gallery. She was also able to get access to a studio residency at the Yaddo Art Colony. It was during this period that she made the famous, Battle of the Oranges, as well as many of her other best-known pieces.
During the late 1950s, she showed paintings all throughout Europe and was even included in the first Jeune Biennale at the American Culture Center in Paris. In 1975, Alice was able to curate the exhibition, Color, Light, and image. This was an international exhibit that included works created by 125 female artists that were created to celebrate the United Nations’ International Women’s Year. This exhibit was hosted in New York City at the Women’s Interart center. Between 1976-1978, Alice shifted her focus to lecturing as well as exhibits and traveled to thirteen Latin American countries alongside the US State Department. She exhibited work but also lectured on art during the trip.
If you want to see works by Alice Baber today, her pieces are displayed at many museums around the world. She is well-known in Europe as well as the United States, which means that you will be able to see her works in many places all over the world. The Guggenheim, Whitney, Metropolitan, and the Museum of Modern Art are key places where you can see Alice’s works. You can also see some of her pieces at the Georgia Museum of Art, and there are exhibitions in her honor at the Alice Baber Memorial Art Library and at the barber Midwest Modern Art Collection of the Greater Lafayette Museum of Art in Indiana. Pieces that she has created are also displayed in private and university collections all around the world, and there are even corporate locations that have original Baber works on display. She is one of the most widely recognized painters with her painting style, and her unique works of art are usually quite easy to spot.
Alice married Paul Jenkins in 1964. Their shared love for their craft allowed the time of their marriage to be a huge benefit to Alice’s creativity. The couple traveled frequently and even went to Japan to collect a large number of works of Asian art. Though they divorced in 1970, Alice would remember the time that they were married as a uniquely creative and prolific part of her life. Alice suffered from debilitating pain related to cancer later in her life but continued to paint. She died in 1982 and was interred in Edgar County in Illinois.