Between Two Worlds
As a German artist living in New York off-and-on from 1962 to 1972, Mary Bauermeister straddled the different social and cultural worlds of America and Europe. Inspired by the work of Americans Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, in particular Rauschenberg’s famous Monogram—a sculptural “combine“ of a taxidermied goat, tire, and tennis ball—she left Cologne to become part of the more open artistic environment that fostered their work. She found New York to be “marvelously experimental.“
Bauermeister’s use of the box format links her with other artists of the 1960s, including those associated with Fluxus, Nouveau Réalisme, Minimalism, and Pop and Op Art. Although she regularly showed with other artists, her work did not conform to any movement of the time. Ironically, the qualities that fascinated critics—her “lyric invention” and “brilliant exploitation of out-of-the-way materials”—may have prevented a deeper understanding of her work.
Image: Mary Bauermeister. German, born 1934. #175 The Great Society (detail), 1969. Painted wood, glass, optical lenses, and ink. Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, Bequest of Richard S. Zeisler
(Class of 1937)