He also worked in the Southwest, exploring the native pueblo and church architecture, seen here in this gaunt, metaphysical study of an adobe wall and curved ladder arching into an eerily empty sky.
The same kind of aesthetically discrete approach characterizes this study of a Spanish colonial architectural detail of a chimney, door and roof-line. Keeping the roof-line level with the point-of-view allows the composition to be neatly divided between the shadowed wall underneath the overhang, and the slightly darker grey sky above.
One aspect of the dramatic West Coastline is the foam and spray which rise into the atmosphere around the crashing surf and rocky shingle. Baer captures this coastal "fog" or mist interposed against the distance shoulders of land, heightening the effect of the glittering droplets of sparkle and fizz. You can really feel the wet and coolness of the interaction.
These aren't the usual tourist shots--because the "nature" they portray isn't welcoming and cheerful. They seem to be telling us that this country may be over-run, may be spoiled and defaced and polluted and poisoned, but it will never be tamed. That's the message with a lot of Baer shots: There's an ephemeral fragility which we can see here, but underneath that there are forces and movements which command our respect, as well as our appreciation of their inherent beauty and charm.
Baer's images are contemplative and refined, serious and dry. But despite their classical balance and studied counterpoint, they're hardly reassuring or inert. The dizzying forces and poised relationships they capture are held in place by the shrewd augmentations of his art. You can feel Baer's character in all his images--he manages to define his purpose and convey his program with confidence and fullness of intention.
This power of purpose has metaphysical persuasiveness which I find convincing, though this isn't the only kind of photographic style I admire, or enjoy.
Baer's a "heavy" artist--rather in the manner that Ansel Adams often is. This muscular insistence can be very powerful, visually, like listening to Beethoven. No one likes Beethoven all the time, but we'd be poorer if we'd never known it. Baer's influence is apparent throughout the following two generations of print-makers. We all have our favorites, but there's no question that Baer's approach to landscape has tended to dominate the field. In many ways, he's the fulfillment of the movement which began with the f64 Group in the 1930's, and chronologically he stands in direct descent from that time, to this.
All Photograph(s) seen here by Morley Baer.
©2012 by the Morley Baer Photography Trust, Santa Fe.
All reproduction rights reserved. Images used by permission.