Late Winter, 1975

Late Winter, 1975
Watercolor, gouache, and chalk on cream-colored paper, 69,8 x 55,7 cm

At the centre of this fascinating watercolour is a winter landscape with a cat carrying its prey to safety. Driven by its instincts, it turns threateningly towards possible attackers. Its long tail brushes aggressively over the thin sheet of ice. Narrow eyes shine like yellow searchlights and show that it is able to survive even in desolate conditions. Ruth Baumgarte started with a pen drawing in which the animal is on a monumental scale in comparison to its environment. By intentionally changing the relative scale, she infuses this animal scene with symbolism.

Später Winter (Late Winter) signals a turning point in Ruth Baumgarte's oeuvre. The previous dominance of rational, profit-centred thinking had begun to falter around 1970 and a new culture of emotion emerged as the student movement gathered pace. Ruth Baumgarte reacted to those changes: she moved away from austere imagery and towards compositions with more layers of meaning. She now used watercolour, frequently dismissed in the art world as "art for girls", to express the new "ice age" in her personal and public environment. Baumgarte weaves together areas of restless colour to create glassy pictorial grounds that you can almost hear crunching underfoot in Später Winter. The creature is standing on unstable ground and must hold its own in the face of the unpredictable natural elements.