IAIN BAXTER& has aimed to expand & challenge the definition of ‘art’ for over 50 years. He currently lives in Windsor (Ontario, Canada) with his wife & collaborator Louise Chance Baxter&. He is a painter, photographer, sculptor, mixed media artist, installationist, film & video maker, interventionist & performance artist who has been a forerunner of conceptual art in Canada. BAXTER& uses his work to undertake cultural commentary & explore art as ‘’visual sensitivity information’’, his phrase for the word art, which points to how his work has always been informed by Marshal McLuhan (influential Canadian philosopher of media theory), so much so that BAXTER& has been considered the Marshall McLuhan of Visual Arts in Canada. Continuous themes in his work include information technology, landscape, art as commodity, & environmental & ecological concerns. These prominent themes throughout BAXTER&‘s work are often met with wit, parody, satire & word-play.
Through his art, teaching, and mentorship, BAXTER& has widely influenced Canadian art, creating new movements such as the Vancouver School of Photo-conceptualism and blurring the lines between private and public through his N.E. Thing Co. among many other impactful projects. He has also directly influenced major Canadian artists, including Stan Douglas, Ian Wallace, Jeff Wall, Roy Arden, Ken Lum and Rodney Graham.
BAXTER& has explored the use of many new materials such as plastics in creating Canada’s first installation work BAGGED PLACE (1966); made the first photo transparency lightboxes (1968) & continues to reappropriate old & found materials. BAXTER& uses these new materials to challenge the limits of ‘medium’ & ‘artist’. Both this new use of materials, in combination with his creation of the N.E Thing Co. (1966-1978), were integral to BAXTER& becoming recognized as one of Canada’s first conceptual artists.
BAXTER& permanently changed his name in 2005 from Iain Baxter to IAIN BAXTER& (also known as the &MAN). This act permanently adhered the ampersand (&) to the end of his name. This fixation with the ‘&’ not only speaks to the interconnectedness of all things & fellow humans but also illustrates the ways in which we rely on the ‘AND’ to connect our thoughts when we use language & when we communicate. In 2010, IAIN BAXTER& then trademarked the ‘&’ in Canada, as a way of ‘branding’ his philosophy of life.
One Canada, IAIN BAXTER&, installation with video, car, projection on windshield, 1992.
Television Works, 2014, IAIN BAXTER&, acrylic paint on reclaimed televisions, (dimensions variable), 2014
BAXTER& has exhibited throughout Canada and internationally in the United States, China, Korea, Japan, and Europe including at the Guggenheim New York, The National Gallery of Canada & the Canadian Cultural Center in Paris, France, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Modern Art, New York & the Tate Modern, London. In 2011, BAXTER&’s work was compiled into a major retrospective IAIN BAXTER&: 1958--‐2011, organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario & The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
His work can be found in collections including the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Vancouver Art Gallery, the F.R.A.C Art Museum in Bretagne, France, the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, The Netherlands, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, & the Tate Modern, London.
BAXTER& is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, an Officer of the Order of Canada including the Order of Ontario and the Order of British Columbia. He is a Member of the Royal Canadian Academy. Among the many awards he has received are the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, the Canadian Council Molson Prize for the Arts in 2005, the Gersho Iskowitz prize in 2006, & the Canadian Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2004. He was winner of the Melva J. Dwyer Award Winner in 2013. IAIN BAXTER& holds five honorary doctorates from the following Influential Canadian Universities including; The University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, NSCAD University, the University of Windsor, & most recently OCAD University.
He has taught at the University of British Columbia, Simon Frasier University, The Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design, The Alberta College of Art, & York University. During his time at Simon Frasier University BAXTER& was responsible for creating the department of Visual Arts. He currently serves as a University professor Emeritus at the University of Windsor’s Center of Creative Arts.
Iain Baxter& Artist Statement
Over the past 50 years, I have been producing & exhibiting (nationally & internationally) art that focuses on & critiques: Art, Media & Information systems, Corporate, Consumer & Popular Culture, The Rural vs. the Urban, Technology vs Humans & Nature, Global Ecological & Sustainability Concerns, & the Landscape in the broadest of ways, as well as Visual Perception in general. A survey of my art production includes; sculpture, photography, painting, video/ﬁlm, drawing, performance, mixed media & installation.
An early source of inspiration for me was the ideas & theories of influential media theorist Marshall McLuhan, which I feel have been incorporated into much of my art, & which profoundly affects our way of looking at the modern world. We live in a natural landscape & a landscape of information, & it is the fusion vs. the confusion between these landscapes that excites me & informs my practice.
This fusion is explored in the work titled Television Works 1999-2006. This work is made up of 10 television sets tuned to ʻsnowʼ. Imposed on these ʻsnowyʼ screens are acrylic painted landscapes. The work discusses a societal fascination with the rapidity & pervasiveness of technology & its relation to our natural & social landscapes.In the past, this work has been exhibited across Canada, America, as well as in the UK in London, & it is now in the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario. For the Xiʼan exhibition I will be producing a new landscape series of Television Works 2014.
Another early source of inspiration for me has been the Eastern philosophy of ZEN, which I studied in 1961-62 in Japan while I was on a Japanese Government Foreign Scholarship, & it has been important to my life & art. It teaches the importance of living in the moment, of caring for the environment, and the interconnectedness of all living things, & of being aware of your own & the worldʼs present state.
Informing the work One Canada Video (1992) (IAIN BAXTER& in collaboration with Louise Chance Baxter&) was the TransCanada highway acting as a highway lifeline & a measurement (every mile videotaped) of our Canadian contemporary landscape. The work was accomplished by afﬁxing a tripod in our van which enabled us to video through the windshield of our vehicle while we traveled for two weeks across Canada.
The work was produced during the Charlottetown Accord & its public referendum in Canada, a conference to ensure that there was One Canada. Throughout our travels, from Cape Spear, Newfoundland to Long Beach, Vancouver Island BC we engaged in discussions with people along the way concerning the referendum & collected ideas & thoughts. Coming from the small island of Trinidad, in the Caribbean the grandeur of the vast Canadian landscape was of particular interest to my wife, Louise Chance Baxter&, & the exploration of that interest was integral to the creation of the work.
One Canada Video measures the North American continent through the perspective of the windshield & asks the observer to view the 100 hour video projection from inside the vehicle, the way, many of us, everyday view and experience the Canadian landscape. This work has been exhibited in Paris, Nice & Geneva while working with french curator & critic Christophe Domino.
IAIN BAZTER&, O.C., O.ont., O.B.C., FRSC, RCA, MFA, D.Litt.
Killer Still Life, stainless steel, killing products, (91.44 x 15.24 x 35.56cm), 1991
Collection of Art Gallery of Hamilton
Fahrenheit 450 Homage to Bradbury and Orwell, installation view,installation with books, shoes and cement, (12.19 x 3.05 x 5.49m), 2008
Trophies, mixed media with acrylic on plywood, mirror, clock, text, stuffed animals, (3.66 x 6.1m), 1992
Collection of Edmonton Art Gallery