Art before 1945 - Coming of Age

Ruth Baumgarte received her first impulses and far-reaching influences for her further artistic career from 1941 to 1944 at the State University of Fine Arts in Berlin-Charlottenburg. Gerhard Ulrich imparted her in-depth training in free graphics and drawing in the illustration class. Kurt Wehlte, a specialist in painting techniques, introduces you to painting.

From the very beginning, Ruth Baumgarte has a keen eye for the people and situations in her social environment, takes a close look at the entanglements and conditions of the time and reveals social conditions in her artistic depictions.

Learn more

The colorist

From a humanistic stance, the painter linked social themes throughout her life with the suggestive radiance of color, which became the driving energy of her work.

During her studies at the Berlin State University of Fine Arts from 1941 to 1944, she learned about the watercolor technique through her friend Florian Breuer, whose enthusiasm she shared for expressionist painting. His first works in watercolor were created. They are depicted with bright, bold colors based on the three primary colors of modernist painting, red, yellow and blue. With watercolor painting, the artist mastered one of the most difficult techniques and energetically pushed back the dark tone that had previously dominated her work.

Learn more

Working world in art

Ruth Baumgarte is the only post-war artist in West Germany who has continuously dealt with the iron industry for almost 20 years.

The artist's interest in the world of work was aroused during her art studies. But in the 1950s it received decisive impetus.

As an emancipated artist, it was not easy for Ruth Baumgarte to assert herself against the traditional role model of mother and entrepreneur's wife in the conservative times at the time. But she is now experiencing the inspiring and previously completely new world of industrial production in her husband's ironworks.

Learn more

[Translate to English:] Ruth Baumgarte - Soziale Wirklichkeit in der Kunst

Social reality in art

When Ruth Baumgarte began to travel to the African continent more often in the 1980s, at the same time she began to notice socio-political issues in her homeland. Clear-sighted and precise about the social and societal undesirable developments of her time, she reflects social reality in her art. During this time, many milieu studies were created that depict the tension between the individual and society, people and nature. While she was studying in Berlin, Ruth Baumgarte drew people who were excluded from society, such as the Sinti and Roma persecuted by the National Socialists and murdered in Auschwitz, or researched the working class milieu in her immediate surroundings. These are first tentative but also courageous attempts to find an independent view of their environment.

Learn more

The role of Women in the 20th Century

The representation of women in art plays a significant role for Ruth Baumgarte.

The artist deals with the social role of women in the 20th century in numerous works. It not only includes impressions from her diverse and eventful life as an artist, mother of five children in a patchwork family and entrepreneur's wife in Germany, but also all of her strong experiences and emotional perceptions that she has of the very different women's lives on her travels in Europe and especially on the African continent.

Learn more

[Translate to English:] Ruth Baumgarte - Die 80er Jahre – Umwelt- und Sozialthemen in der Kunst

Environmental and social issues

German art of the 80s turned away from conceptual art and minimalism and returned, among others with the Neue Wilden, to colorful painting characterized by expressivity and emotionality with a great stylistic diversity. Expectations that the artist always has to reinvent images no longer apply. There is a new stylistic pluralism in art, which also draws on the images of past centuries and satisfies the “hunger for images” (Wolfgang Max Faust).

Due to personal upheavals, Ruth Baumgarte was able to devote more time to her painting during this time and in her art of the 1980s she dealt with social and political hotspots such as the arms race in the Cold War or the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Environmental and social issues now occupy a central place in her art.

Learn more

African Vision

When Ruth Baumgarte resumed the travels she began in the 1950s, she was in the middle of her life. In her old age, the artist traveled to African countries over forty times over a period of 20 years, including Egypt, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia and South Africa, often spending several weeks there. The intense colorful effect of nature on site deeply impressed Ruth Baumgarte and she now developed her very own expressive style, which ushered in a new colorism in her work. The landscape and people of this continent become the most important inspiration for her art.

Wherever she is, she observes people carefully, empathically empathizing with their respective life situations, with the battle between the sexes and the gender role of women as workers in the countryside. She is interested in foreign cultures in a continent that was still largely unexplored for European artists at the time. She documents what she sees and experiences - including the times of upheaval on the African continent - with on-site studies and processes the results in color-saturated oil paintings, virtuoso watercolors, drawings and expressive gouaches as soon as she returns to her studio in Germany.

Learn more

Traveling artist

Ruth Baumgarte occupies a special position among traveling artists in Europe.

She has been traveling in Europe since the late 1950s and increasingly since the 1980s, including the countries of Scandinavia, Austria, Italy and northern Spain. She discovers the Middle East, the Caspian Sea, the USA and the African continent. In addition, there are numerous stays in major international cities. She is fascinated by the breathtaking atmosphere of the places, the foreign and captivating cultures, the very different people and their lifestyles.

“Not a day without a line!” - this artistic motto, which Paul Klee found for his extensive late drawing work, can also be used to describe Ruth Baumgarte's passion for the southern landscape, architecture and narrative culture. In particular, she explored northern Spain around 1980 with light luggage. The traveling artist goes on hikes through the beautiful landscape with a small folding chair, coffee mug, sketchpad, watercolor box and various drawing pencils and brushes. She encounters motifs everywhere outside and takes numerous snapshots. Nature becomes your open-air studio.

Learn more