A new public commission by Mary Bauermeister opens at KölnSkulptur #10 in Cologne, Germany

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  • June 29, 2020

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Mary Bauermeister (b.1934), Rübezahl, 2020, showing installation in progress, KölnSkulptur #10, Skulpturenpark Köln, Cologne, Germany, July 2020–Summer 2022; Photographer Simon Stockhausen
Mary Bauermeister (b.1934), Rübezahl, 2020, showing installation in progress, KölnSkulptur #10, Skulpturenpark Köln, Cologne, Germany, July 2020–Summer 2022; Photographer Simon Stockhausen

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery is proud to announce the opening of a new site-specific work by Mary Bauermeister (b.1934) at Skulpturenpark Köln in Cologne, GermanyThe installation, Rübezahl (2020), was commissioned for the tenth edition of the exhibition series KölnSkulptur and is inspired by one of Bauermeister’s iconic poem-drawings of the same name from 1994. KölnSkulptur #10 is curated by Tobias Berger, Chief Curator at the Tai Kwun Center of Heritage and Arts in Hong Kong. It will remain on view from July 2020 through Summer 2022.

Rübezahl, for which this commission is named, is a mythical figure of German, Polish, and Czech folklore: a mountain spirit who in numerous legends and fairy tales guards mountain passes and subterranean treasures. Bauermeister explains: “This work combines childhood memories of folkloristic art I saw in Austria with my lifelong fascination for nature and the spirits which live therein. I am delighted that Tobias Berger has chosen me to be part of KölnSkulptur #10 and that thousands of people will be able to view and interact with Rübezahl over the next two years.”

Over the last several months, Bauermeister has studied the park landscape and considered, in this ever-changing world, the role of nature on her life in the present and in the past. Identifying with the spirits of nature, she chose to realize her poem Rübezahl (1994) with a dynamic and interactive installation comprised of approximately 150 wooden chairs in various sizes (ranging from 1 inch to 10 feet high). These chairs symbolize the thrones of Pan—the god of nature—from micro- to macroscopic dimensions. In a statement, halley k harrisburg, Director of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery remarked: “A perfect union for the times—Bauermeister & nature! For decades, Mary’s work has married fantasy & reality, life & death, the serious & the sarcastic—Rübezahl is all that and more as it offers the public a space for contemplation and conversation.”

Here follows the poem, in its entirety, that inspired the installation:


Rübezahl, 1994
A poem by Mary Bauermeister
Written on August 8, 1994
Translation by Simon Stockhausen

Stones in eternal connection to the world of stars
Root-crowned rockhead
Rübezahls toy
Breathed upon with moss
protected and conserved
by acting beings
to give testimony in times to come
of EVERYTHING that happened on earth
when the children of this planet awaken to their true existence
Sometimes sleeping dreaming praying
often on unaccompanied paths
the ghost of rocks unfolds his treasures
gives us an insight into his vast realm
Aeons merge from yesterday to tomorrow
Everything was there before and in the book of times
everything has been recorded
and the seal of all our lives is hidden in stone
you reach from the dust of our former ashes
touch our souls
for recognition
and sometimes at sacred places in predestined times
the myths also reopen their sluices
and Rübezahl presents himself
chooses those amongst us children of the earth
to whom he entrusts his guarding rod
and the gravity of his blessing dissolves in the joy of his companions

Mary Bauermeister (b.1934), Rübezahl, 2020, showing installation in progress, KölnSkulptur #10, Skulpturenpark Köln, Cologne, Germany, July 2020–Summer 2022; Photographer Simon Stockhausen


Skulpturenpark Köln is an open-air exhibition space that is located within the urban infrastructure of Cologne, open and free to the public 365 days a year. For more than twenty years, the Stiftung Skulpturenpark Köln has biannually invited a curator to use the park as a place of negotiation regarding current developments in contemporary art. Two overarching themes of KölnSkulptur have always been the interaction between art and public space as well as the complex relationship between culture and nature. Since its opening in 1997, over 160 internationally-known artists, including Louise Bourgeois, Peter Fischli/David Weiss, Isa Genzken, Dan Graham, Jenny Holzer, Anish Kapoor and Rosemarie Trockel, have shown sculptures. Recent curators of KölnSkulptur include Renate Goldmann (2009), Friedrich Meschede (2011 and 2013), Thomas D. Trummer (2015) and Chus Martínez (2017).
About Mary Bauermeister
A multidisciplinary artist known for her intricate and enigmatic assemblages, Mary Bauermeister (b.1934) continues to defy categorization with layered works in a range of media. A precursory figure of the Fluxus movement—her studio was the meeting point for a number of defining artists of the avant-garde—her work plays an integral role in the discussion of art, both European and American, that emerged from the 1960s. Her reliefs and sculptures, which have incorporated drawing, text, found objects, natural materials and fabric, reference a plethora of concepts: from natural phenomena and astronomy to mathematics and language, as well as her own “spiritual-metaphysical experiences.” Born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, Bauermeister studied at the Hochschule für Gestaltung (Ulm School of Design) in Ulm and the Staatliche Schule für Kunst und Handwerk (State School of Arts and Crafts) in Saarbrücken. In 1956, Bauermeister returned to Cologne and between 1960 and 1961, she rented a studio on the top floor of Lintgasse 28, a space that fostered a cutting-edge environment, hosting numerous exhibitions, concerts and performances. Most notably, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Nam June Paik, Christo, Karlheinz Stockhausen (whom she would marry in 1967) and other avant-garde artists, musicians and dancers convened at the studio, partaking in many of the earliest Pre-Fluxus happenings and earning Bauermeister the title “grandmother of the Fluxus movement.” Following her first museum exhibition in 1962, Bauermeister left Germany for New York, where she entered the art world swiftly and joined Galeria Bonino, where exhibitions of her work gained the influential attention of critics and institutions alike. Bauermeister stayed in New York for the next 10 years, forming lasting friendships with a number of artists, musicians, choreographers and writers, including Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Ray Johnson, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Hans Namuth and Alan Ginsberg. In 1971, Bauermeister returned to Europe, settling in the small town of Rösrath, near Cologne—where she continues to live and work. In this remote location surrounded by nature, she began working with water and crystals to design commissioned gardens, both interior and exterior, meant for pleasure and meditation. In the last two decades, Bauermeister has participated in numerous group exhibitions, most notably WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (2007); Welten in der Schachtel (Worlds in the Box), Wilhelm Hack Museum,  Ludwigshafen, Germany (2010); Zero-Die internationale Kunstbewegung der 50er und 60er Jahre (The International Art Movement of the 50s and 60s), Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany (2015); Point-Line–Plain–TV, Nam June Paik Art Center, Seoul, South Korea (2016); KÖLN 68! Protest. Pop. Provokation, Kölnisches Stadtmuseum, Cologne, Germany (2018); and “Cry Gold and See Black,” curated by Julie Mehretu, Artistic License: Six Takes on the Guggenheim Collection, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY (2019). Recent solo surveys of her work include Mary Bauermeister-Da capo-Werke aus 60 Jahren, Mittelrhein Museum, Koblenz, Germany (2015); Mary Bauermeister: The New York Decade, Smith College Museum of Art, Smith College, Northampton, MA (2015); Pli Score Pli: Mary Bauermeister, Kunstmuseum Solingen, Germany (2017); and Mary Bauermeister–Zeichen, Worte, Universen, Kunstmuseum Villa Zanders, Bergisch Gladbach, Germany (2017). In 2019, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery presented its first solo exhibition for the artist: Mary Bauermeister: Live in Peace or Leave the Galaxy. Bauermeister’s work is represented in numerous museum collections including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, NY); Baltimore Museum of Art (MD); Brooklyn Museum (NY); Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC); LVR-LandesMuseum (Bonn, Germany); The Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY); Museum Ludwig (Cologne, Germany); Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY); and Wilhelm Hack Museum (Ludwigshafen, Germany).
About the Curator
Tobias Berger is Chief Curator at Tai Kwun Centre of Heritage and Arts in Hong Kong. After studying art history and economics at Ruhr-University Bochum and completing the De Appel Curatorial Training Programme in Amsterdam, he worked as a curator at the Museum Fridericianum in Kassel. In 2002, Tobias Berger became the artistic director of the 8th Baltic Triennial of International Art in Vilnius, Lithuania, and between 2003 and 2005, he was the director of ARTSPACE NZ in Auckland, New Zealand. He was executive director of Para Site Art Space in Hong Kong from 2005 to 2008. Tobias Berger served as the chief curator at the Nam June Paik Art Center in Seoul, South Korea, from 2008 to 2010, and from 2010 to 2015, he was curator of visual arts at the M+ Museum in Hong Kong.
Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC is the exclusive representative of Mary Bauermeister (b.1934).

Dan Munn
Michael Rosenfeld Gallery


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