Mary Bauermeister Obituary, Death Cause – The news that the artist Mary Bauermeister, who was an important role in the Pop art movement, has passed away has left us in a state of profound melancholy. The multidimensional structures that she creates are what have brought her the greatest attention. These structures embody a unique graphic language that has its origins in science, mathematics, and poetry. Her artwork consists of extensive areas of pen and ink painting coupled with repurposed materials and optical lenses. Her compositions also incorporate discovered things. Three of her paintings are currently on display at the Buffalo Art and Knowledge Group, and one of them is titled “Four Quarters.” [Maria Bauermeister (German, 1934–2023).
Four Quart-er-s,” 1965. Sketches, lenses, and found objects; the dimensions are 30 inches on a side by 30 inches on a side by 5 inches (76 x 76 x 13 cm). Collection of the Buffalo AKG Art Museum was made possible in 1968 thanks to a donation from Seymour H. Knox Jr. (K1968:15). © Mary Bauermeister] In the years immediately following World War II, a group of avant-garde artists led by Bauermeister was very active. Bauermeister was at the center of this group. She was born in Germany, where she also spent the majority of her career and achieved the majority of her renown. Germany is where she spent the majority of her life. It is known that artists such as Nam June Paik, Wolf Vostell, John Cage, and Robert Rauschenberg, amongst a great many others, have interacted with her and her work at various points of their careers. This is also the case with a great many other artists.
A reaction to the prevailing bourgeois aesthetics of the 1960s was the impetus for the birth of the Fluxus movement, which began in that decade. She and several of those other artists were members of Fluxus together. Their works took the form of assemblages of everyday objects that were placed in ways that were visually discordant with traditional forms of painting and sculpture. These works were displayed in galleries around the world. Bauermeister is best known for the “lens boxes” that she crafts; these are among her most famous works. These beautiful boxes are constructed using a variety of stones and shards of glass that have been combined in intricate designs.
Bauermeister was born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1934, and he spent the majority of his childhood participating in activities that had nothing to do with the arts. During one of her many interviews, she provided the New York Times with the following quote: “Because of the Nazis, we had no opportunity to see modern art.” My grandfather traveled to Holland and brought back some art books with him, but we were not allowed to talk about them. It was in the year 1946, one year after the end of World War Two, when she first attended classes in Cologne.
After completing her secondary education and receiving her diploma, she went on to pursue a degree in art at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm, which she later described as having an unpleasant atmosphere. She addressed a letter to one of her teachers in which she stated that the only works of art that were given serious attention in this university were constructed, mathematically verified, and rectangular. She decided not to continue her education at the institution after completing one semester there. Instead, she enrolled at the State School for Art and Craft in Saarbrücken, where she was taught photography by Otto Steinert.