Mary Bauermeister (born in 1934 in Frankfurt am Main) is an internationally renowned artist who was one of the formative figures of the avant-garde scene in the Rhineland in the early 1960s. Her studio at Lintgasse 28 in Cologne was a centre for the “new arts”, in music as well as art and architecture.
Today the visitors and performers who graced this open studio read like a Who’s Who of the experimental movements in art, literature and music: Nam June Paik, John Cage, Hans G Helms, Merce Cunningham, Otto Piene, Heinz Mack, Ben Patterson and many others came to the concerts, readings, exhibitions and performances in her studio, turning it into a vibrant platform for happenings and experimental music.
Bauermeister’s intermedia art earned her a first major solo exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 1962. That same year - inspired in particular by works of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns - she left for New York, together with Karlheinz Stockhausen, whom she had met in Cologne in 1957 and married in 1967. She quickly established herself in New York, becoming very successful there. The most important museums, including MoMA, the Guggenheim and the Whitney in New York as well as the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, acquired her works, which have also been represented in the Whitney Biennial and numerous other exhibitions.
When she returned to Cologne in the early 1970s, Bauermeister turned away from the commercial art market. As a result, her work only received a lukewarm reception in Germany.
In 2013, Mary Bauermeister showed early 1950s/60s works at 401contemporary (her first exhibition at the gallery) paving the way for her comeback. The unique artistic collaboration Mary Bauermeister / Karlheinz Stockhausen was shown at ART COLOGNE 2014. During Gallery Weekend 2014 in Berlin, the exhibition INTERMEDIAL (Intermedia) brought the spirit of the art scene of the late 1950s and early 1960s (which had prevailed in Mary Bauermeister’s open studio in Cologne) to the contemporary audience. And for her 80th birthday in September 2014, 401contemporary featured the solo show DIE VISIONÄRIN (THE VISIONARY) to honour this important and impressive artist and figure.
At 81 years, Mary Bauermeister’s artistic vitality shows no signs of waning. She continues to produce new work that is bursting with life and materiality, at once light, poetic and philosophical. As is the case with so many other great women artists, her later work has also led to a rediscovery of her earlier work, which was often overlooked at the time.
In a proverbial FARBRAUSCH (Blaze of Colour), Mary Bauermeister is currently at work on a cycle of new dot-and-straw paintings with fluorescent colours – a technique she originally developed in 1958. The gallery show includes large-format paintings in yellow, blue, purple, red, green and black-and-white – partly illuminated with black light. Costumes of the same colours allow for dance-like performative colour-movements in the gallery, so that green drifts towards yellow, blue towards red, etc., creating new colour impressions in the space.