The artist and co-founder of the Fluxus movement, Mary Bauermeister, is dead. She died on Thursday morning at the age of 88, Bauermeister's son Simon Stockhausen confirmed to the German Press Agency.
Bauermeister was one of the few women who stood for the experimental artistic awakening in post-war art in the 1950s and 1960s. While she was already celebrated in the USA, in Germany she was long overshadowed by the famous composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, to whom she was married between 1967 and 1973.
Bauermeister was born on September 7, 1934 to a professor of anthropology and genetics and a singer. During the Nazi regime, she once said in an interview, her father hid scores by Arnold Schönberg and works on surrealism in the bookcase. She saw the first non-representational pictures in the books.
Her studio was the birthplace of Fluxus
After studying in Ulm and Saarbrücken in the mid-1950s, Bauermeister settled in Cologne. Her studio was considered the birthplace of the Fluxus movement. The first performances by Nam June Paik and John Cage, for example, were shown there in the early 1960s. People met to try out new things in art, music and literature. Bauermeister and her artist friends, including Christo, founded the post-war avant-garde.
After a solo exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam in 1962, Bauermeister moved to New York, where she was one of the first artists to be accepted and celebrated by the art market. Friendships developed with Robert Rauschenberg, Niki de St. Phalle, Jasper Jones, Andy Warhol and others. In 1972 she returned to Germany.
But Bauermeister needed her freedom. She built a house in Rösrath near Cologne because she couldn't live in a house with her husband Stockhausen, she said. For years she made costumes for him and corrected his scores, but no longer wanted to live with him. The artist raised four children from three fathers.
Bauermeister lived in Rösrath until her death. She created a universal work: drawings and paintings, but above all enigmatic and detailed object boxes and installations. She worked with pencil and brush as well as with sand and stones or wasp nests.
Her works are owned by the major museums in New York and Washington, as well as the Stedelijk Museum and the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, among others.
But Bauermeister only received awards when he was very old. In 2021 she received the first art prize of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia for her "outstanding artistic oeuvre". In 2020 she was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit.
"Mary Bauermeister's work has shaped subsequent generations of artists," said North Rhine-Westphalia's Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU) in recognition of the artist. "Her work opened the door to more equality and recognition for female artists, for whom she was a real inspiration and role model. During her work, she connected art and her life in new ways." His thoughts are with Bauermeister's family.