Lothar Baumgarten was born in Rheinsberg, Germany in 1944, and studied at the State Academy of Fine Arts Karlsruhe in 1968 and from 1969 to 1971 at the Düsseldorf State Art Academy, including one year with Joseph Beuys. He has been a professor at the Berlin University of the Arts since 1994. The most noteworthy among his numerous solo exhibitions were at the Guggenheim Museum New York (1993), MACBA Barcelona (2008), and Kunsthaus Bregenz (2009). He participated in the documenta 5 (1972), 7 (1982), IX (1992), and X (1997), and in the 38th Venice Biennial (1978) and again in 1984, where he was awarded the Golden Lion.
Baumgarten consistently questions the Western world’s patterns of thinking and acting, the Eurocentric view on other cultures, colonialization of the foreign, and the relationship to nature. His work rests upon anthroposophist and anthropological interests and he grapples intensely with the writings of Claude Lévi-Strauss. Like Lévi-Strauss, Baumgarten lived for a lengthy time in South America. In addition to films, photographs, and photo projections, installations, and artist’s books, he has developed site-specific installations, including ones in the form of murals. In numerous works, he problematizes the definition of culture through its opposition to nature and by showing both in joint penetration, which poses the issue of a common history. Language and writing are further central fields of investigation for Baumgarten as he attempts to make their social and political structures tangible and track down their subversive potential.