Lothar Baumgarten was born in Rheinsberg, Germany in 1944 and studied at the Staatliche Akademie für bildende Künste Karlsruhe in 1968, and at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf from 1969 to 1971, including one year with Joseph Beuys. In 1978-79, he lived for a year and a half with Yanomami tribes in the Venezuelan-Brazilian border region. From 1994 to 2010 he taught at the University of the Arts in Berlin. Of his numerous solo exhibitions, those at the Guggenheim Museum, New York (1993), the MACBA in Barcelona (2008) and the Kunsthaus Bregenz (2009) stand out. He participated four times in the documenta: in 1972, 1982, 1992 and 1997, and twice in the Venice Biennale in 1978 and 1984, in which he received the Golden Lion. The artist lived and worked in New York and Berlin, where he died in 2018.
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.read more read less