ISSUE 50  |  Holiday Gifts

Art & Decor: Richard Baker Book Cover Series

December 14, 2010 7:00 PM

BY Francesca Connolly

Brooklyn-based still-life painter Richard Baker started painting dog-eared copies of vintage paperbacks several years ago. "Books have always been important to me—from the first set of World Book Encyclopedia in my childhood home, through my first jobs in bookstores, to my readings in college and beyond," he says. Baker scours used bookstores in search of appropriately careworn paperbacks to immortalize in his 12-by-10.5-inch gouache portraits: “No precious first editions, no rare things—just your common companions."

For more information on Baker's work, contact the Albert Merola Gallery in Provincetown, MA, or Tibor De Nagy in New York City; to contact the artist directly, email him at Richard Baker. Learn more and see a slideshow of works at Poets & Writers.

Above: A James Joyce classic. "Which books to paint?" Baker asks. "I began to think about books that had been important and life-changing for me."

Above: A Virginia Woolf title.

Above: A William Faulkner title; "Books come to stand for various episodes of our lives, for certain idealisms, follies of belief, moments of love," Baker says. "Along the way they accumulate our marks, our stains, our innocent abuses—they come to wear our experience of them on their covers and bindings like wrinkles on our own skin."