Image: Studio Lindemannstr. 42, Düsseldorf, c. 1971 © Estate Lothar Baumgarten
The exhibition will open on the DÜSSELDORF COLOGNE OPEN GALLERIES weekend:
Friday, 4 September 2020, 11am-8pm
Saturday, 5 September 2020, 11am-8pm
Sunday, 6 September 2020, 11am-6pm
Opening hours: Tue-Fri 2-6pm, Sat noon-5pm and by appointment.
We are looking forward to your visit under observance of
the distance and hygiene rules for protection against COVID-19.
The oeuvre of the internationally renowned conceptual artist Lothar Baumgarten (1944-2018) is characterised by situational works in various media. His work was presented at four editions of the documenta and he was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 1984 for his complex installations. The exhibition focuses on early works of imaginary journeys and spaces, created by Baumgarten during his formative time at the Akademie für bildende Künste Karlsruhe and the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where he studied with Joseph Beuys among others. At this stage Baumgarten already introduced anthropology to his art and was far ahead of the postcolonial debate of his time. The slide projection Eine Reise oder ‚Mit der MS Remscheid auf dem Amazonas‘ / Der Bericht einer Reise unter den Sternen des Kühlschranks (A Voyage or ‘With the MS Remscheid on the Amazon’/ The Account of a Voyage Under the Stars of the Refrigerator) (1968-1971) is the first work about an imaginary voyage related to South America. Landscape is never represented as a panorama but as superimposed spaces of imagination. The slide projection combines text fragments, portraits by ethnographic explorers at the turn of the century, a map, and small cigarette cards of the overseas steamer MS Remscheid with Baumgarten’s own photographs. His images evoke the nature of the Amazon Basin but were in fact taken in the Rheinaue wetlands near Düsseldorf. A new medium at the time, the slide projection also addresses how a Western mindset is often projected onto foreign cultures. To imagine the experience of the other, one inevitably draws on one’s own set of representational tools. On view alongside the slide projection are gelatin silver prints of photographs taken from 1968 to 1969 and colour photographs from the 1968–1972 series Kultur-Natur. Fantasies of overseas travel reappear in Schiffslinien (1969): A white and a blue wooden panel are placed in a glass cabinet like monochrome paintings or nautical signals next to three rows of cigarette cards of ocean liners and flags of large shipping companies. The miniature collector cards and the cigarettes both advertise the flavour of faraway places. In the wall installation Moskito from the same year the tropical insects have bread buns for bodies and dove feathers for wings. Baumgarten again employs typical domestic products of nature and culture to create a vision of remote environments. In 1977 and 1978 Baumgarten travelled to South America for the first time to live with two tribes of the Yanomami people in the border region of Venezuela and Brasil. His photographs offer a multi-layered image of their lives, as for example in River Crossing (1978). The sojourn marks a transition from the imaginary travels and landscapes to formally precise investigations of cultural differences. A 1977 wall drawing from the cycle River Pieces shows naming as a meaningful act, preserving culture and negotiating power relations, which more often than not mirror Europe’s colonial history. In bold letters the names of rivers flow on the wall in alternating colours. Works on paper from the 1980s and 1990s complement the presentation, exploring neologisms and political jargon as well as image-text relations.