Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Rudolf Bauer was a highly important German artist in the non-objective art movement in Germany and the United States whilst also playing an integral part in the formation of the Guggenheim Museum founding collection.
As a young artist in Berlin, Bauer created satirical illustrations for German publications, and from about 1915 to 1920, he exhibited at Herwarth Walden’s avant-garde Galerie Der Sturm, alongside artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Paul Klee, Fernand Leger and Marc Chagall. Bauer’s work ranged from figurative illustrations and caricatures, to cubism and futurism, to abstract and non-objective paintings.
Solomon R. Guggenheim, with the guidance of Rebay, was a champion of non-objective art, and in the 1930s, Bauer’s art became the cornerstone of Guggenheim’s founding collection of such art. Guggenheim acquired over 200 works by Bauer which featured prominently in the first public exhibitions of his collection, and Bauer also was instrumental in helping Guggenheim to acquire the works of Kandinsky. The Museum of Non-Objective Painting, housing Guggenheim’s collection, was a showcase particularly for Bauer’s artwork, vision and design. Bauer’s artwork was also featured at the NY MoMA, Arts Club of Chicago, and Musée du Jeu de Paume (Louvre), Paris. He was introduced to the American public in the 1920s by the prominent collector Katherine Dreier and her Société Anonyme, whose curator was Marcel Duchamp.
In 1930, Bauer opened his own museum gallery in Berlin, “Das Geistreich.” In 1937 his work was included in the Degenerate Art exhibition in Munich. After his museum was closed, Bauer was arrested by the Nazi government but later released with intervention of Rebay’s brother and Guggenheim. In 1939 he moved to the U.S., though he ceased working after a dispute with Guggenheim over a contract that gave the Foundation ownership of Bauer’s future artwork.
In 1967 Bauer’s work was shown at the Guggenheim in Seven Decades, A Selection for the first time since his death from lung cancer in 1953. In 1969 his work was given a large retrospective at the Galerie Gmurzynska in Cologne. This was followed by several solo exhibitions in New York and Europe. In 2005 the Guggenheim Museum mounted Art of Tomorrow: Hilla Rebay and Solomon R. Guggenheim, which featured many Bauer works and traveled also to the Museum Villa Stuck and the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin. Since then Bauer has been newly recognized as an important player in the nonobjective art movement as well as in the making of one of the world’s most important collections devoted to it.