Ruth Baumgarte‘s Africa cycle - Ludwig Foundation in the Marble Palace, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg

On the occasion of the 95th birthday of the internationally well-known artist Ruth Baumgarte (1923-2013), the Ludwig Foundation at the Marble Palace, State Russian Museum Saint Petersburg, presents a large exhibition centred around the artist’s expressive Africa cycle from 5th September until 22nd of October 2018. The exhibition was curated by Prof. Dr. Beate Reifenscheid, director of the Ludwig Museum Koblenz. A 104-pages, hard-copy publication is released in English and Russian.

Ruth Baumgarte, born in Coburg, Germany, in 1923, grew up as the daughter of the actress Margarethe Kellner-Conrady and the actor, director and later UFA-director Kurt Rupli in Berlin. After completing her studies at the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste Berlin, she briefly worked as an illustrator at the first post-war German-Russian newspaper before relocating to Bielefeld in 1946, shortly after the end of World War II. In Bielefeld, she started building her career as a graphic artist before solely dedicating herself to working as a freelance artist. Her works were presented at renowned international institutions and galleries. Ruth Baumgarte died in February 2013.

Ruth Baumgarte's journeys to Africa

In the 1950s, she began travelling the African continent on her own – a continent, which, at that time, was largely unknown to the European world. From the 1980s onwards, she travelled to different South and East African states, the Apartheid-shaped South Africa especially, in total more than forty times and for a period of over 20 years. This is where she developed her unique, expressive style of painting, which pushes together layers of imagery in her works, forming distinct, sometimes apocalyptic visions.

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2018 | РУТ БАУМГАРТЕ - Ruth Baumgarte

Ludwig Foundation in the Marble Palace, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg

The Africa cycle

The resulting Africa cycle, which comprises more than 100 works, was transformed to the present by the Ludwig Museum Saint Petersburg’s exhibition in a manner that emphasises the ways in which this exceptional European artist has been processing the societal, tribal, and political aspects of the continent’s socialisation in her works for decades, long before an art-historical discourse on this topic was established in the Western world.

In 2017/18, the Ludwig Museum Koblenz (Germany) already presented the exhibition “Ruth Baumgarte. Turn of the Fire”, featuring approximately 50 of the artist‘s works. Following this exhibition, the Saint Petersburg show now puts on display nearly all of the cycle’s works in the main hall of the prestigious Marble Palace on the occasion of Ruth Baumgarte’s 95th birthday.