George Baker


Ph.D. Columbia University, 2001
Phone 310-825-8233
Office Dodd Hall 221D


George Baker is Professor of Art History at UCLA, where he has taught modern and contemporary art and theory since 2003. A New York and Paris-based critic for Artforum in the 1990s, he now works as an editor of the journal October and its publishing imprint October Books. While known for his criticism and essays on contemporary art, he resists the specialization of the “contemporary” as an academic field and regularly offers courses on all aspects of modernism and the historical avant-garde, on the history of photography in the 19th- and 20th-centuries, and on specialized topics in post-WWII and contemporary art history.


Baker received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2001, and is a graduate of the art history program at Yale University and the Independent Study Program of the Whitney Museum of American Art. He has received, amongst others, an Andrew Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, CASVA and Whiting Foundation fellowships, a postdoctoral fellowship from the Getty Research Institute, and, most recently, a 2014 Arts Writers Grant from the Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital. He is the author of The Artwork Caught by the Tail: Francis Picabia and Dada in Paris (MIT Press, 2007), and the editor, with Eric Banks, of Paul Chan: Selected Writings, 2000-2014 (Schaulager and Badlands Unlimited, 2014). Currently, he is working on disparate projects including a revisionist study of Picasso’s modernism and a book on the work of four women artists—Zoe Leonard, Tacita Dean, Moyra Davey, and Sharon Lockhart—to be entitled Lateness and Longing: On the Afterlife of Photography. The latter is part of a larger project that, in his art criticism, Baker has termed “photography’s expanded field,” detailing the fate of photography and film works in contemporary art.



  • James Coleman: Drei Filmarbeiten. Sprengel Museum, 2002.
  • Gerard Byrne: Books, Magazines, and Newspapers. Lukas & Sternberg, 2003.
  • Editor, James Coleman. MIT Press, 2003.
  • The Artwork Caught by the Tail: Francis Picabia and Dada in Paris. MIT Press, 2007.
  • Editor, Paul Chan: Selected Writings, 2000-2014. Schaulager and Badlands Unlimited, 2014.
  • “The Body After Cubism.” Forthcoming, Francis Picabia: A Retrospective (Zurich: Kunsthaus Zurich, 2016; New York: MoMA, 2017).
  • “Picabia and Calder: A Trajectory.” Transparence Calder / Picabia (Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz and Zurich: Hauser & Wirth, 2015), pp. 17-33.
  • “Notes on Painting in Disguise.” Take It or Leave It: Institution, Image, Ideology. Anne Ellegood and Johanna Burton, eds. Los Angeles: UCLA Hammer Museum, 2014.
  • “The Black Mirror.” Paul Sietsema. Columbus, OH: Wexner Center for the Arts, 2013. Retrospective catalog, Wexner Center and MCA Chicago, 2013-14.
  • “Mike Kelley: Sublevel.” Mike Kelley. Eva Meyer-Hermann and Lisa Gabrielle Mark, eds. New York: Prestel; Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum, 2013. Retrospective catalog, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Pompidou Center, Paris; MoMA PS1, New York; MOCA Los Angeles, 2012-14.
  • “The Squatter: Reconsidering Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.” Cornerstones. Juan Gaitán, Nicolaus Schafhausen, and Monika Szewczyck, eds. Rotterdam: Witte de With Editions and Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2012.
  • “DIE ARTIST SCUM.” Merlin Carpenter: The Opening (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2011).
  • “Viva Hate.” Richard Hawkins: Third Mind. Retrospective catalog, Art Institute of Chicago and Hammer Museum, UCLA. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010.
  • “Paul Thek: Notes from the Underground.” Paul Thek: Diver, A Retrospective. Elisabeth Sussman and Lynn Zelevansky, eds. Retrospective catalog, Whitney Museum of American Art; Carnegie Museum of Art; Hammer Museum, UCLA. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010.
  • “The Absent Photograph.” Moyra Davey: Speaker Receiver. Exhibition catalog. Basel: Kunsthalle Basel; New York: Sternberg Press, 2010.
  • “Calder’s Mobility.” Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art: Form, Balance, Joy. Lynne Warren, ed. Exhibition catalog, MCA Chicago; Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach; Nasher Museum at Duke University, Durham. Chicago: Museum of Contemporary Art, 2010.
  • “Primal Siblings: George Baker in conversation with Kaja Silverman.” Artforum XLVII no. 6 (February 2010), pp. 176-183.
  • “Leather and Lace.” October 131 (Winter 2010), pp. 116-149.
  • “Man Ray’s Culture Industry.” Alias Man Ray: The Art of Reinvention. Retrospective catalog, The Jewish Museum. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.
  • “Out of Position: The Art of Martin Kippenberger.” Artforum XLVII no. 6 (February 2009), pp. 142-151.
  • “Photography and Abstraction.” Words without Pictures. Alex Klein, ed. Online version launched 17 November 2008. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2009. Second edition: New York: Aperture, 2010.
  • “Lateness and Longing.” 50 Moons of Saturn: T2 Torino Triennale. Daniel Birnbaum, ed. Milan: Skira, 2008.
  • “Rachel Harrison: Mind the Gap.” Parkett 82 (2008), pp. 143-155. English and German.
  • “Late Criticism.” Canvases and Careers Today: Criticism and Its Markets. Daniel Birnbaum and Isabelle Graw, eds. Institut für Kunstkritik, Frankfurt am Main. New York and Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2008.
  • “Paul Chan: The Image from Outside.” Paul Chan: The 7 Lights. London: The Serpentine Gallery, 2007; New York: The New Museum of Contemporary Art, 2008.
  • “The Other Side of the Wall.” Tom Burr, Extrospective: Works 1994-2006 (Zurich: JRP Ringier, 2006), pp. 57-88, reprinted in October 120 (Spring 2007), pp. 106-137.
  • “Photography’s Expanded Field.” October 114 (Fall 2005), pp. 120-140.
  • “The Cinema Model.” Robert Smithson: The Spiral Jetty. Lynne Cooke and Karen Kelly, eds. New York: Dia Center for the Arts with the University of California Press, 2005.
  • “Film Beyond its Limits.” Anthony McCall: Film Installations. Exhibition catalog. Coventry, UK: Mead Gallery/University of Warwick, 2004, reprinted in Grey Room 25 (Fall 2006), pp. 92-125.
  • “Fraser’s Form.” Andrea Fraser, Works: 1984 to 2003. Cologne: DuMont Verlag, 2003. Retrospective catalog, Kunstverein in Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany.
  • “The Anti-Images of Robert Whitman: The Dante Drawings, 1974-75.” Robert Whitman: Playback. Retrospective catalog. New York: Dia Center for the Arts, 2003.
  • “The Space of the Stain.” Knut Åsdam: Works 1995-2000. Exhibition catalog, “Knut Åsdam: Psychasthenia 10,” Tate Britain, London. London and Copenhagen: Tate Britain and Galleri Tommy Lund, 2000, reprinted in Grey Room 05 (Fall 2001), pp. 5-37.
  • “A Balancing Act.” Expanded version, with Christian Philipp Müller.  October 82 (Fall 1997), pp. 95-118.
  • “Photography between Narrativity and Stasis: August Sander, Degeneration, and the Decay of the Portrait.” October 76 (Spring 1996), pp. 73-113.


Please click here to download a full list of Professor Baker’s publications.



  • AH 23. Modern Art
  • AH C129A. Modern Art, 1900 to 1950
  • AH C129B. Dada, 1915 to 1923
  • AH C129C. Surrealism, 1924 to 1939
  • AH C131A. Contemporary Art, 1940s to 1950s
  • AHC131B. Contemporary Art, 1960s to 1970s
  • AH C128A. History of Photography, 1839 to 1910
  • AH C128B. History of Photography, 1910 to Present
  • AH C128C. History of Photography: Selected Topics
  • AH 185. Undergraduate Seminar, changing topics each year. Recent undergraduate seminars have included “Picasso,” “The Theory and Practice of Art Criticism,” “Modernist Sculpture: Models, Histories”



Changing seminars in Modern Art, Contemporary Art, and the History of Photography. Recent seminars have included:

  • “Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”
  • “The Dada Idea”
  • “Modernism and the Minor”
  • “Untimely Meditations: A Seminar on Anachronism”
  • “Theories of Modernity”
  • “Photography and Atavism”
  • “Photography’s Expanded Field”
  • “Avant-garde and Underground”
  • “Postwar European Art, 1940s-1970s”
  • “Contemporary Sculpture After Sculpture” (with Miwon Kwon)