Still life painting realism - Jordan Baker (b. 1981),
Jordan Baker (b. 1981), "Too Much Is Never Enough: Lemons," 2021, oil on canvas, 20 x 20 in., Spalding Nix Fine Art, Atlanta

There is a lot of superb contemporary realism in still life painting being made these days; this article by Allison Malafronte shines light on a gifted individual.

Based in New York’s Hudson Valley, where artists have basked in the beauty of nature for centuries, Jordan Baker (b. 1981) is an emerging artist with a discerning eye focused on the world around her. Her classic still lifes, painted with keen attention to detail in the trompe l’oeil tradition, may initially look like odes to everyday objects. But beneath the surface, they started out as philosophical ruminations on important issues the artist feels compelled to explore and share.

Take, for instance, her “Too Much Is Never Enough” series, in which food in great quantities challenges our notion of excess.

“I have used the visual language of traditionally composed still life painting to explore the subjective concept of good taste and the wavering line between abundance and excess,” Baker explains. “Instead of offering an ‘appropriate’ amount of various items, I have composed a still life with a classically distasteful amount of a single item.

“Having good taste is one way we non-verbally communicate to others that we belong to the upper class. I attempt to subvert that very subtle, invisible hierarchy by creating a painting that is in traditionally defined poor taste, yet executed in a tasteful manner.”

In “Too Much Is Never Enough: Lemons,” Baker is particularly curious about an abundance of lemons and their ancient symbolism. “In Dutch Baroque painting, a lemon symbolized life,” she notes. “It looks juicy and sweet on the outside, but it’s bitter on the inside. What does it mean to have more than just one lemon to remind you of this fact? What does it mean to turn up the volume on that symbolism? Does it disappear? Become louder?”

These are not rhetorical questions; rather, this painting is intended to spark conversations among those who view it.

Baker is interested in far more than deconstructing the concept of good taste. “My work focuses on moments when I feel caught between feelings of both attraction and repulsion, specifically when it comes to matters of gender and class,” she comments. “There are times when I want to slip into the comforting familiarity of a feminine archetype, but I also find it essential to exercise feminist agency over my actions. With no clear concept of good or bad, my work attempts to expose the tension within the nuance of identity, who we are, and what we do.”

Baker was born on a naval base in Winter Park, Florida. She attended Tufts University and earned a B.F.A. in art history from Syracuse University and an M.F.A. in mixed media from SUNY Albany. She has more than a decade of experience in arts administration in New York City, including stints at Allan Stone Gallery and Phillips de Pury.

This article was originally published in Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. Learn more about the artist at