Veronica Brown '17 Assistant News Editor
On Jan. 30, the new exhibition Mary Bauermeister: The New York Decade opened at the Smith College Museum of Art.
The exhibition focuses on Bauermeister, a German artist, and the 10 years she lived and worked in New York. She moved to the city in 1962 after seeing one of Robert Rauschenberg’s combines, “Monogram.” She decided that America’s flourishing avant-garde art community would afford her more opportunities to develop her unique aesthetic.
Bauermeister’s work from this period takes on multiple forms using a variety of media. The exhibition displays her work made of natural material, such as stones, as well as her drawings and lens boxes. In the intricate lens boxes, the artist combines optical lenses, detailed drawings and wooden sculptural elements. Many of the pieces were originally intended to be interactive; viewers could move the lenses in order to change their perspective.
Later in her career, much of Bauermeister’s work conveyed political messages. In one of her large-scale lens boxes, “The Great Society,” she included portraits of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. She also repeatedly commented on consumer culture in her art. Several lens boxes feature cartoonish renderings of Joe Camel, and one of the most interesting pieces, “Variation on Quentin Metsys,” plays with the classic painting “The Moneylender and His Wife” as a statement on the role of money in modern society.
Smith will host Bauermeister for a weeklong residency in March. The museum will offer a variety of programming, including a concert of the music of avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, Bauermeister’s spouse from 1967 to 1972. Although primarily a visual artist, Bauermeister has also experimented with music, and she will perform a vocal duet with Kate Soper, Smith Assistant Professor of Music.
During her time in New York, Bauermeister’s work was frequently exhibited with other famous artists of the era. After returning to Germany in the 1970s, she gradually faded from the art world and has not had a solo show in the United States in years.
This exhibition will only be on display at the Smith College Museum of Art and will be showing until May 24.