I’ve always collected things from nature. Then I would contemplate them, and that gave me the idea that somehow people should be given a way of seeing these things as art. Someone should say: just look! I mean, not change, anything. And I didn’t change anything.
Mary Bauermeister b. 1934
Multidisciplinary artist, musician, and performer Mary Bauermeister is one of the most influential and accomplished artists of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Born and raised in Germany, she began her artistic path in secondary school creating works in charcoal, colored pencils, and pastels on paper. Bauermeister went on to study for one year under Max Bill and Helene Nonné-Schmidt at the School of Design in Ulm followed by two years at the State School of Arts and Crafts in Saarbrücken where she experimented with photographic techniques. Following her studies she moved to Cologne and began her career as a freelance artist. Her studio in the old quarter of the city swiftly became a popular haven for avant-garde poets, composers, and artists, including those from the newly formed Fluxus movement, which prioritized the artistic process over the finished product.
Bauermeister’s debut solo exhibition was held in 1962 at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and in 1963 her works were included in group exhibitions alongside those of Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Alfred Leslie, and Richard Stankiewicz. Rauschenberg and Johns’ work so inspired her that she decided to move across the Atlantic and continue her career in New York City. With the support of Galeria Bonino, Bauermeister successfully entered the New York market and exhibited her works there throughout the 60s. She showed her first lens boxes in 1964 and by the end of the decade had taken part in numerous group shows across the US and Europe.
In the 1970s Bauermeister moved back to Germany and was honored with her first retrospective exhibition at the Mittelrhein-Museum in Koblenz to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of her career. That same year she had her first solo exhibition in Italy at the Arturo Schwarz Gallery in Milan. By the end of the decade, she became involved in designing pleasure and meditation gardens and experimenting with water surfaces, crystals, and prisms. Through the rest of the 20th century Bauermeister expanded her artistic horizons, exhibiting her work worldwide and participating in important events including the International Crystallography Congress at Bielefeld University.
Bauermeister did not slow down in the 21st century: she published her first autobiographical book in 2011 and the following year was honored with another retrospective exhibition, this time at the Frauenmuseum Bonn in Germany. In 2015, she created a new series of pointillist works on canvas utilizing techniques she developed in the 60s. Several years later, Bauermeister was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany by German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier. A tireless creative force and collaborator, Bauermeister’s output continues to this day and she is now exclusively represented by Michael Rosenfeld Gallery in New York. Her work can be found in permanent collections throughout Germany and the United States, including the Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art in New York.