Plastic Tree Plus City Hall
British, b. 1937
Plastic Tree Plus City Hall, 1964
Acrylic on canvas
156.8 x 121.3 cm (61 3/4 x 47 3/4 inches)
Gift of Richard Brown Baker 1996.11.21
A tree rises in front of a brushy abstract background while chains of crisp white circles resembling clouds or thought bubbles lead to a skyscraper in the distance. Painted shortly after the artist relocated to Los Angeles, this work juxtaposes naturalism and artificiality to suggest both the reality of landscape and cityscape and the unreal worlds of fiction and fantasy associated with Hollywood and the entertainment industry.(September 23, 2011 – January 8, 2012)(February 18 –April 16, 2000)
Richard Brown Baker described himself as “inadequately experienced” when asked to comment on the collection of contemporary art that he exhibited at RISD in 1959. The Providence native had recently narrowed his collecting focus to “art since 1945,” but had already assembled an international sampling of artists such as Jackson Pollock, Ad Reinhardt, Lionel Feininger, Hans Hofmann, and Robert Motherwell.
Over the next four decades, Baker continued to collect, and the RISD Museum had numerous occasions to celebrate his passion for contemporary art. In 1997, Baker’s gifts were the focus of an exhibition that honored his generosity to RISD and his long involvement as a member of the Museum’s Fine Arts Committee. His love of British art is demonstrated by David Hockney’s exuberant Plastic Tree Plus City Hall and Ben Nicholson’s enigmatic Nov. 55 (deep Persian Lilac), two of hundreds of works of art that have been given to RISD by Baker.
Made in the UKContemporary Art from the Richard Brown Baker Collection
Edited ByLiese, Jennifer, ed.
Contributions byHoward, Jan and Judith Tannenbaum
Publisher & DateMuseum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 2011
TypeExhibition CatalogueSelected Works
Edited ByWoolsey, Ann, ed.
Publisher & DateMuseum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 2008
TypeMonographs and Collections
Farrell, Jennifer. “Get There First, Decide Promptly: The Richard Brown Baker Collection of Postwar Art”. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2011.