Born in 1929 in Seattle, Jo Baer majored in biology at the University of Washington between 1946 and 1949. She then undertook graduate work in physiological psychology at the New School for Social Research in New York, before moving in 1953 to Los Angeles, where she began her artistic career. Following her return to New York in 1960, she created her first mature work in 1962. Included in key exhibitions launching Minimal art in the early sixties, she began showing widely after her first solo show at the Fischbach Gallery in New York in 1966. In 1975 a midcareer retrospective was held at the Whitney Museum of American Art, after which she immigrated to Ireland. Since 1983, she has lived and worked in Amsterdam. In 1999, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam presented a major retrospective of her work.