Over the last four and a half decades, Lothar Baumgarten has drawn wide acclaim and respect for his powerful body of work centred on ethnography and anthropology.
Using a broad range of media—from ephemeral sculptures, photography, slide projections, 16 mm film works, recordings, drawings, prints, books and short stories to site-specific installations, wall drawings and architecture-related interventions—he questioned the core ideas and systems of representation.
Solo exhibitions of his work have been presented at a number of international institutions, including the Marian Goodman Gallery, New York (2020); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Palacio de Cristal, Madrid (2016); Botin Foundation, Santander, Spain (2012); Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany (2011); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2009); Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) (2008); Museum Kurhaus Kleve, Germany (2006); Dallas Museum of Art, US (2004); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2003); DePont, Tilburg, the Netherlands (2002); and Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg; Palazzo Querini Stamalia, Venice; and Museu Serralves, Porto, Portugal (all 2001). His work has been shown in group exhibitions at Pinacoteca do Estado São Paolo, Brazil (2018); Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo (CAAC), Seville, Spain (2017); Aarhus Kunsthal, Denmark (2015); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2013); and Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK), Frankfurt (2011). He also participated in documenta 5 (1972), 7 (1982), 9 (1992), and 10 (1997).
Baumgarten received the mfi Award, Kunst und Bau, Essen, Germany (2003); the Lichtwark Prize, City of Hamburg (1997); The Golden Lion, 41st Venice Biennale (1984); and prizes from the State of Nordhein-Westfalen, Germany (1976), and the City of Düsseldorf (1974).
He graduated from the State Academy of Fine Arts Karlsruhe, Germany (1968), and also studied at the Academy of Arts in Düsseldorf (1969–1971).
Baumgarten was born in Rheinsberg, Germany, in 1944 and passed away in Berlin in 2018.
The 81 slides in Unsettled Objects (1968–1969), images of artefacts from the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford that are shown by a carousel projector, make visible how European and Western museums present and store their so-called ethnological and anthropological ‘treasures’