Rudolf Bauer

Born 1889, Wirsitz, German Empire (modern Poland)

Died 1953, Deal, New Jersey


Early life   Family moves to Berlin.  Expresses an interest in art from an early age. 

1900s   Leaves home to attend the Academy of Fine Arts.

1912   Supports himself as an artist with illustrations for magazines and newspapers.  Though he continues commercial work, he begins to work in a more abstract mode.  

1915   Participates in a group show at Der Sturm.  He participates in the group with artists such as Wassily Kandinsky and Marc Chagall throughout the mid 1920s.    

1917    First solo show at Der Sturm, focusing on his “lyrical abstract” works.

            Meets Baroness Hilla Rebay von Ehrenwiesen, with whom he would have a relationship.  The two would share a studio beginning in 1919, but their relationship becomes platonic shortly thereafter due to her family’s disapproval.  

1920   Collector and co-founder of the Société Anonyme, Katherine Sophie Dreier visits Berlin and purchases several of Bauer’s works.  In her writings of 1949, she says how influential Bauer’s paintings are in introducing people to abstractions and how his works appeal to the public. 

1920s   Bauer continues to create abstract (“non-objective”) and figurative works of art. 

1930   Solomon Guggenheim and his wife, together with Rebay, travel to Germany to meet Bauer.  Guggenheim purchases several of Bauer’s new works (now geometric abstraction) and gives him a stipend.  With the money, Bauer opens a museum Das Geistreich (“The Realm of the Spirit”) that focuses on non-objective painters.

1938   Returns from an exhibition in Paris and is arrested by the Nazis for his “degenerate” art.  He would remain in a Gestapo prison, creating works on scraps of paper, until August 1938.     

1939   Leaves Germany for the United States prior the start of World War II.

1940s   Signs a contract with Guggenheim, in which Guggenheim puts $300,000 in trust for Bauer, and Bauer would turn all of his future works over to the Foundation.  Bauer misunderstands the original arrangement and is so bothered by it that he stops painting altogether.  

1949   Guggenheim dies, and his trustees abandon the original idea of the collection, resulting in Bauer’s works to be sent to storage. 

1953   Bauer dies of lung cancer.

1967   Bauer’s works remerge and are shown at the Guggenheim’s Seven Decades, A Selection. 

1969  A large retrospective of his works take place in Cologne. 

2005   The Guggenheim features many of Bauer’s work in the exhibition Art of Tomorrow: Hilla Rebay and Solomon R. Guggenheim.