The Oddly Enduring and Endearing Work of Glen Baxter

When I’m on Instagram late at night, I look at art. I watch the intoxicating ways painters brush copper onto their canvas, lampposts glimmering in the dark. I look at 50s pop art, repurposed with modern feminist language and dialogue. I read comics whose honesty and vulnerability shine through in every square. Perhaps, one of my favorite pages is that of Glen Baxter (@glenbaxterartist). 

Baxter is known for his drawings and their accompanying captions. These captions make little sense, are intellectual jokes, or are satirical in nature. His simple line drawings are hued with crayons and colored pencils and feature a variety of recurring characters (such as schoolchildren, cowboys, and explorers). Baxter’s work has been published in The New Yorker and Vanity Fair; he currently exhibits with the Flowers Gallery where he has sold numerous collections. 

While Baxter’s most notable satirical image was published in 1981, his work remains as humorous and relevant as ever. His Instagram account has amassed over 20,000 followers and his most recent series is one of simplistic absurdity. “Fruits of the World in Danger,” as he has entitled it, features various fruits in peril. The first post, “Number 1 The Orange,” features a blue train barreling through a blue mountainside towards a singular monarch-colored orange that teeters on the edge of the tracks. From then on, the situations endangering the fruit only become more whimsically nonsensical and complicated. “Number 2 The Grape” features a single purple dot plunging over a waterfall and “Number 3 The Banana” includes two men rotating a saw blade that steadily descends closer to the banana resting on a wooden countertop. 

While these images are not necessarily “relevant” they are surprisingly humorous. Perhaps the simplistic line drawings when paired with the mockery of modernity’s obsession with danger are what makes it so amusing. 

Original Illustration Designed in Canva for Her Campus Media

During Spring 2020, Baxter also addressed the COVID-19 pandemic. His May 1st post features a lone bagpiper standing on a hill, where the bagpiper is confined to the grassy knoll by yellow police tape. “Unnecessary precautions for those in self-isolation,” reads the caption. There seem to have been very few people who have been able to make light of COVID but this image made me chuckle and is, in fact, hanging on the wall of my dorm room. 

Even more relatable is his earlier post featuring a young boy clinging to the cliffside as vegetables fall from the sky around them. The boy, pressed against the rocky terrain, exclaims that he had “spent his whole childhood trying to avoid fresh vegetables.” The child in me who tried to smuggle brussel sprouts from her pocket to the garbage certainly sympathized with and appreciated the boy’s struggle. 

I truly believe that Baxter has one of the best Instagram accounts and a truly interestingly unique approach to storytelling through art. I will always appreciate his niche and, yet, relatable sense of humor that confronts the paradoxical simplicity and complexity of satire and modern art. In modernity, an audience expects art to be intricate and sophisticated but, in reality, art (as well as satire) can be as simple as a train barreling towards an orange.