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Landscape, 2002, Acrylic on canvas, Barcelona chairs, TV. 10 'x 17'. Collection of the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.

Iain Baxter &

(& Man)

3rd October to 4th November 2017


Iain Baxter & (or & MAN) is one of the tutelary figures of the artistic movement of "critical enterprises". They have arisen in the four corners of the globe since the 1960s, as "companies" or "firms" and are carried by entrepreneurial artists. If their aesthetic field is often close to that of the company, it is indeed the political field that the "critical companies" invest day after day, through an unexpected reflection and production. The exhibition of Iain Baxter & at the Sorbonne Artgallery is thus a highlight of our program of international artists who question the links between art and society.

The history of Iain Baxter & runs parallel to that of the contemporary company, which began during the economic boom of the 1960s, a period of flourishing of the American company and of its geographic and media expansion. Baxter & explains:

“An artist in this market environment ultimately depends on the charity of those who, for one or another psychosocial reason, wish to 'support' the arts (economic motivation should be added to this since art began to exist). 'object of savage speculation). It is essential to free artists from these constraints and to rely on the cultural knowledge they possess to better blend in with the worlds of business, politics and education ”.


Creating an artistic structure based on the model of the contemporary company then appears to be an appropriate solution. By turning art into a business, the artist acquires the status of an entrepreneur and grants himself the same prerogatives as those of his counterpart in the economic world, thus gaining significant room for action.


In 1966, Iain Baxter & set up the NE Thing Company , a business and a work at the same time. In 1969, the British Columbia Gazette , Vancouver's official journal of notices, incorporated the company into its registers, a legal act that literally entered the artistic gesture in the business world, and at the same time, introduced the business world into the history of 'art. "Producing sensitive information" is the first status and the central objective of this pioneering company, determined to erase the traditionally insurmountable gap between aesthetics and economics. Its activity will develop during ten years, affirming the ground where will emerge later structures with the form and the similar ambition. Supplier of sensitive information of all kinds, the NE Thing Company will also organize experiments designed to generate it: an expedition to the Arctic Circle, business consulting services, as well as the launch of its branches, the NE Photo Lab ( photographic laboratory) and the Eye Scream restaurant.


Infiltrating the corporate world requires building a system that is not only credible, but also operative. The creation of the company establishes the passage to the act, it is then necessary to make it live. Everything that there is to take or learn from the business world will thus be adapted to the (artistic) context of its establishment: logo, official stationery, stamps, slogans, posters, badges, etc., art claims its right to be everywhere. "Art is all over", insists Baxter &. The year of its official registration, the firm installed in the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, a "corporate environment" to be mistaken: offices, busy secretaries, the president's office and other paraphernalia of the working world made up the structure. , realizing a confusing transposition for the eye as well as for the mind. To enter this space was to venture into a breach where art confronted itself and held up a mirror to the business world. This breach has continued to widen since.

Reinventing the company and inventing itself as a company are part of the "global posture" advocated by & MAN throughout its life, which it sees as a permanent search for new means to navigate its environment and to build adapted solutions. to inhabit the world. And it is precisely there that he situates his field of action, in the landscape in the broadest sense: that of the real world and that scaffolded by information, understood as the media-message formulated by Marshall McLuhan, whose thought merges with the artist's vision.

  Presentation notice for “Iain Baxter &” published in Yann Toma (dir.), Les Entreprises critiques , Paris,

Cité du Design Éditions, Collection Chair of Research in Creation and Creativity, 2008, pp. 239-250.

Portrait of Iain Baxter &, 2000, Artist's pool, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

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