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

From July 6th to October 11th, 2013 the Samuelis Baumgarte Gallery presents a big 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 Ruth Baumgarte Art Foundation, which will manage and support the artistic life’s work in prospective. Additionally the foundation will award an annually award 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 Margarethe Kellner-Conrady. Her first artistic education she received as a schoolgirl. From 1939 she visited the well-known Private Art School of the West (Private Kunstschule des Westens), Emmy Stahlmann, Berlin.

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Exhibition Film

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 graphic arts and illustration. During her studies she was a constant staff member of „Kaskeline-Zeichenfilm-Ateliers", Berlin. In consequence of the evacuation of the university in the Second World War she went to Sonneberg for a short time, to the industry and crafts school in Sonneberg in Thuringia, until she returned to Berlin.

Selbstbildnis ( der Tür), 1979, Bister, Kreide und Aquarell auf Papier, 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 drawing teacher at the Ulrich-von-Hutten high school.  Because her first husband's family came from Bielefeld the artist moved to western Germany in 1947. The marriage hold despite of their first son Thomas just a short time. 

Ruth Baumgarte became illustrator of diverse publications and magazines in 1947, for example the Freie Presse of Bielefeld (a predecessor of today’s Neue Westfälische). More than two-thousands illustrations for books, daily newspapers and magazines were created. From 1947, 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 got married. The children Janine (veterinarian) und Alexander (gallerist 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. Mid 1980s. this gallery became the starting-point for founding the today international acting Samuelis Baumgarte Gallery and the Art Consulting company. Celebrating her 90th birthday, the Samuelis Baumgarte Gallery mounts this retrospective, to allow an extensive insight into her versatile and multilayered Œuvre. The Art of Ruth Baumgarte, enshrined in the figurative tradition, impresses with an extraordinary colour palette, 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. Two early drawings Gypsy in the Rain (1942/43) discuss 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 the 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 Atelier (1945) and Still life (1948) or children portraits like Heidi (1949) and the theater related Small Dancer (1950) are on the one hand  connected with hope, on the other hand these pictures convey a positive future-orientation in 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.