Ruth Baumgarte Homage to 90. Birthday – Important works out of seven decades

Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie, Bielefeld, 06th July - 11th October 2013

Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie, Ruth Baumgarte Homage to 90. Birthday – Important works out of seven decades, Bielefeld 2013

From July 6th to October 11th 2013 the Samuelis Baumgarte Gallery presents a great retrospective with more than 100 works of seven decades from the lately passed away, international renowed artist Ruth Baumgarte. Additionally to the exhibition a 224-paged publication with comprehensive coloured images is published. On 27.06.2013 the artist would have turned 90 years old. The planned retrospective has become now a posthumous distinction, because Ruth Baumgarte passed away on February 7th 2013.

The exhibition is a non-commercial cultural event in collaboration with the 2012 established art-foundation (Kunststiftung) Ruth Baumgarte, which will mange and support the artistic life’s work in prospective. Additionally the foundation will award an annually prize to a figurative working artist.

Born 1923 in Coburg and raised in Berlin originates from an old theatre family. Her father was the director of UFA and majority shareholder of Tobis film production Kurt Rupli and her mother the acknowledged actress Margret Kellner-Conrady. Her first artistic education she received as a schoolgirl. From 1938 she visited the well-known art school of the west, Emmy Stahlmann, Berlin.

From 1940-44 she studied independent graphic and painting at the university of visual arts Berlin under the professors Ulrich, Michel, Tank, Franzke und Wehlte. Under Prof. Ulrich she became a student in the master class. During her studies she was a constant staff member of „Kaskeline-Zeichentrickfilm-Ateliers", Berlin. In consequence of the evacuation of the university in the Second World War she went to Dresden for a short time. A few weeks before the destruction of the city she changed to a master atelier of the industry and crafts school in Sonneberg in Thuringia, until she returned to Berlin.

Self-Portrait (...at the door), 1979
Bister and chalk on paper, 40 x 38 cm


The young artist experienced the end of the war in Berlin. After the capitulation of Germany she became draughtswoman of the first German Russian daily paper and art teacher at the Ulrich-von-Hutten high school. Just because of her first marriage with an artist from Bielefeld she moved to western Germany in 1947. The marriages hold despite of their first son Thomas just a short time. Ruth Baumgarte became illustrator of divers publications and magazines in 1947, for example the Freie Presse of Bielefeld (a predecessor of today’s Neue Westfälische).Thousands of illustrations for books and magazines were created. During that time she also started work as a freelanced artist and presented her works in many single- and group-exhibitions in Germany and abroad. At the end of the 1940’s she got to know her later husband, the industrialist Hans Baumgarte, while an exhibition of her children-portraits.

1952 Ruth and Hans Baumgarte married. The children Janine (animal species) und Alexander (proprietor of a gallery and art dealer) were born. Since the early 1950’s she traveled to many countries of Europe, the eastern bloc, again and again to Africa, the Orient, near East and the USA. 1975 she founded the well known gallery Das Fenster (the window) Bielefeld. Out of this gallery she and her son Alexander founded in the middle of the 1980’s the today’s international acting Samuelis Baumgarte Gallery and the business operation Art Consulting. Ruth Baumgarte left a versatile and multilayered Œuvre, in which the Samuelis Baumgarte Gallery with the retrospective to the 90. birthday grants an extensive insight. The Art of Ruth Baumgarte, enshrined in the figurative tradition, impresses with extraordinary colouring, which can be found in her whole work.

Already in the early work from Ruth Baumgarte, during the art dictatorship of the Nationals Socialists, criticism is leveled against the present regime. The early drawing Gypsy in the Rain (1942) discusses the political conditions and makes even the topic deportation, but also more subtle signs of suspected annihilation, evident. Therefore she couldn’t show these works at that academy time officially. An early example for her artistic self-assertion is the nonconformist Early Self-Portrait (1947). In androgynous clothes, with beret und especially: with a cigarette in the mouth, she violates like natural more than one code of behavior of the times.

The works immediately produced after war concur with the reconstruction longings of the human beings in post-war Germany. Works like Ateliercorner (1945) and Still life (1948) or childrenpaitings like Heidi (1949) and Small Dancer (1950) are on the one hand assimilations connected with hopes, on the other hand these are pictures of a positive future-orientation in the context an art, which searches for new insight, new truth.

Influenced by numerous journeys to far countries is already implied in early works like In the Suburbs (1966) - the distinctive color evident, which later in her Africa cycle unfolds completely. The nude Meditation impresses not only because of the sensual shape of the female figure, but also trough the intensive blue-yellow colouring.

Again and again Ruth Baumgarte takes up profound, political and social critical topics, like in The Doubt (1985) or And the white turned faces suddenly were black (1986). Also the works of the set Winterdeath 1982), with the fusing of individual and landscape and the symbolic comparison of winter as death of nature with the demise of an human being, were important for Ruth Baumgarte und personified significant realisations about world and destiny.

One outstanding chapter began with her journeys to Africa. Influenced by –for European eyes- unusual, unreal colours of the African continent, is the colouring of the Africa-set brightly, explosively shining and expressive, almost stunning and battening. So her paintings like African Vision (1999) or The Daily Chat (1995) approach directly with their warm colors the emotions of the observer.

Ruth Baumgarte’s Africa-pictures have double relevance: as esthetic occurrences as well as a position in the political-social area of tension, like it is obvious in Rift Valley (1997), Burning Sky (1998) or Inferno (2003). Also the studies and drawings, particularly of Africa, for example Study I-VI (1997), are designed very detailed. They play with impulses of old examples with free and oscillating or oneself balling compressing line, to give a form to the papleaf base. The Africa cycle, which dominates with brightly-coloured, large-format oil paintings like the triptych of 1995/97 Turn of The Fire, Even the Elephant‘s Death will occur on a single Day and The Stream of Time the main hall, was shown internationally since the 1980’s in huge renowned solo exhibitions inter alia in New York, London, Rome, Milan, Paris and Berlin.

Online Exhibition Catalogue