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Gary Baseman


According to Gary Baseman himself, his art inhabits “that muddy spot where the line between genius and stupidity has been smudged beyond recognition.” This book, as well as the exhibition it accompanies, considers the artist’s popular and pervasive work within the conceit of a home, illustrating the incredibly personal nature of the paintings, objects, and illustrations he has produced. The first book to trace the influences of his Jewish heritage, in keeping with the Skirball’s mission to feature the work of American Jewish artists, and his upbringing in LA, it presents a local and contemporary context for his illustrious career. The “house tour” of Baseman’s life takes the reader through his career as an illustrator in New York, his return to fine arts in LA, the success he found in animating the popular Disney cartoon and movie “Teacher’s Pet,” his synthesis of toy culture and fine art in character-based projects and game design such as Cranium, and his recent focus on fine art. The poignancy and charm of his work are effectively explored in this intimate set up, which brings together the most complete presentation of his work yet. Dark yet playful and childlike, Baseman has adhered to his idiosyncratic style despite collaborations with powerhouses such as Disney and Nike whose corporate vision might have overwhelmed his own. The mass appeal of his work attests not just to the skill with which he realizes his vision but to his vivid interior world, made real here for the first time.

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