'My critical approach does not intend to offer autobiographical solutions to universal problems. I believe art should encourage us to question the status quo and the structures that allow it to persist.'
– Lothar Baumgarten
Galerie Marian Goodman is pleased to announce an exhibition of works by Lothar Baumgarten (1944–2018), which will open to the public on 1 September 2021. As an homage to one of the most influential German artists of his generation, the exhibition focuses on his early works including his iconic film Origin of the Night (Amazon Cosmos), a selection of photographs, a slide projection, as well as several sculptural installations. His famous floor piece America Señores Naturales, originally created for the German Pavilion at the 41st Venice Biennale in 1984, and for which he was awarded the Golden Lion prize, will be shown on the ground floor of the gallery. This historical piece, alongside the other works in the show, encompass the founding elements of Baumgarten's conceptual practice; from the emphasis on the architectural and historical context, along with the preeminence of naming and typography, to references to his anthropological investigations.
With America Señores Naturales, Baumgarten sought to challenge the historical role played by Western colonialism as well as its associated systems of thought. In a new publication dedicated to the project, Joanna Vickery-Barkow notes: 'Removing rows of the building's original honey-coloured marble floor tiles and replacing them with new ones spelling the word America, the river names Amazonas, Tapajos, Xingu, Purus, Orinoco, Vaupes, and Tocantins, and depicting four abstract graphic symbols, he sought to "impose the topographical structure of the Amazon basin onto the lagoon of Venice."'1 At the Paris gallery, the original marble flagstones of the German Pavilion will be either laid on the floor separately or piled one on top of the other, and juxtaposed with brass rods and natural feathers, following Baumgarten's instructions for last installation of the artwork in 2016.
Lothar Baumgarten was born in Rheinsberg, Germany, in 1944 and died in Berlin in 2018. He studied at the Staatliche Akademie für bildende Künste, Karlsruhe (1968) and at the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (1969–1971), where he was a student of Joseph Beuys. Between 1978 and 1980, he lived for a period of 18 months among the indigenous Yanõmami people in the Orinoco region, Venezuela. Lothar Baumgarten exhibited internationally and major solo shows have been held in museums such as the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina, Palacio de Cristal, Madrid, Spain (2016); Fundación Botín, Santander, Spain (2012); Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany (2011); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2009); Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), Spain (2008); Museum Kurhaus, Kleve, Germany (2006); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA (2003); Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg (2001); National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto and Tokyo, Japan (1996); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA (1993); Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, USA (1987); Musée National d'Art Moderne - Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France (1987); and ARC/Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France (1986).
Lothar Baumgarten also participated in Documenta V (1972), VII (1982), IX (1992), X (1997) and was the recipient of the MFI Prize, Essen, Germany (2003); the Lichtwark Prize, City of Hamburg, Germany (1997); The Golden Lion, First Prize of the 41st Venice Biennale, Italy (1984); the Prize of the State of Nordhein-Westfalen (1976); and the Prize of the City of Düsseldorf, Germany (1974).
1 Joanna Vickery-Barkow 'Ground, Map, Floor: The Site and the Subject of Lothar Baumgarten's Señores Naturales' in Lothar Baumgarten, America Señores Naturales, published by Marian Goodman Gallery, 2020, page 15.
Press release courtesy Galerie Marian Goodman.