Mary Bauermeister is born on September 7 in Frankfurt am Main/Germany as daughter of Wolf Bauermeister, professor of anthropology and genetics and the singer Laura Bauermeister.
1946 - 54
Mary attends secondary school in Cologne, the drawing teacher Günther Ott recognizes her artistic talent and fosters it. She begins to create her first works in charcoal, coloured pencil and pastel on paper.
1954 - 57
Mary begins her studies at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm where she also attends the basic courses held by Max Bill and Helene NonnÉ-Schmidt, a student of Paul Klee's. However she can't reconcile the school's rigorously constructive orientation with her own ideas. As she writes to Günther Ott: 'The only artworks which receive serious attention here are constructed, mathematically provable, rectangular…' She leaves Ulm after one semester and registers at the Staatliche Schule für Kunst und Handwerk in Saarbrücken as a student of Otto Steinert.
There she experiments with various photographic techniques. In 1956 Mary returns to Cologne where she takes up residence as a free-lance artist and supports herself by selling her pastel works.
1960 - 61
Bauermeister rents a flat in the attic of Lintgasse 28 in the heart of the old quarter of Cologne. Concerts and exhibitions take place there between March 1960 and October 1961. The Atelier Mary Bauermeister is firmly associated with cutting-edge musical and artistic events. With it's new radio station and renowned Studio für Elektronische Musik the broadcasting company WDR is as much a magnet in the city for musicians from all over the world as the IGNM Festival für Neue Musik. At night, after the WDR events, the international audience and artists from all over Europe and the U.S. gather at Mary's atelier where - within the framework of a Contre-Festival - many artists perform who have been rejected by the official IGNM jury. These intermedia events in Mary's studio can be considered to be premieres and provide the artists - who will later join to become the Fluxus movement - with important impulses. Very much to the benefit of both artists' work, Bauermeister forms a close friendship with Karlheinz Stockhausen who likewise visits the studio concerts.
In summer 1961 Mary attends Stockhausen's composition lectures at the international summer courses for new music in Darmstadt where she composes her Painterly Conception, a painter's score - a composition for the six senses - or instructions for action inspired by the serial parameter concept (Schoenberg, Webern, Stockhausen).
Mary's works are presented in a museum for the first time. Jan Willem Sandberg, the director of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam invites Bauermeister and Stockhausen for a joint inter-media presentation. Works by Mary dating from 1958 - 62 are shown, tape recordings of Stockhausen and other composers are projected during the museum's opening hours, some of Stockhausen's scores are displayed in glass boxes in the immediate vicinity of Mary's artwork. This exhibition is also presented later at the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam and in early 1963 at the Groninger Museum.
Concurrently with this presentation, Sandberg also mounts the exhibition Four Americans with works by Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Alfred Leslie and Richard Stankiewicz, including Rauschenberg's famous Monogram. Mary is so impressed by Rauschenberg's and Johns' work that she decides to continue her work in New York where she heads in October 1962.
In December 1963 Mary signs a contract with Galeria Bonino and takes part in the group show 2 sculptors, 4 painters. With Alfredo and Fernanda Bonino's support she accomplishes her breakthrough on the New York art market. All of the prominent New York museums start purchasing her works and she is represented in all important exhibitions. The art critic Brian O'Doherty writes about Mary in the New York Times: 'It will be interesting to see if she has the intelligence and cunning to cope with the major success she is obviously going to have.'
1964 - 65
Mary Bauermeister - Paintings And Constructions is the title of her first solo exhibition at Galeria Bonino in March 1964 where the first lens boxes are presented (amongst other things). The second solo exhibition of the 'large, six-foot tall Lorelei' as she is being named by the magazine The New Yorker takes place in 1965 and is now devoted primarily to Mary's lens boxes.
1966 - 67
Her third solo exhibition at Galeria Bonino in 1967 is likewise devoted above all to lens boxes. In the 1960s, in addition to the exhibitions at her gallery, Mary takes part in numerous group shows in the U.S. and Europe, to name a few from 1966:
the Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Sculpture and Prints at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, Towards a Cold Poetic Image at the Schwarz Gallery in Milan/Italy and Pictures to Be Read/Poetry to Be Seen at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. In their exhibitions, catalogues and inventories the American museums often refer to Bauermeister as an American artist. She takes part in several exhibitions of younger-generation American artists and shows of contemporary American art.
Bauermeister and Stockhausen marry in San Francisco in 1967; they have two children: Julika, born in January 1966 and Simon, born in June 1967.
In the early 1970s Mary takes up primary residence in Europe. Already in 1968 she had a house built for herself in the little town of Rösrath near Cologne, surrounded by a large garden which she integrates into her artistic work. Owing to the high demands for her work and presence she continues to visit New York regularly.
Mary has already been working as an artist for over 20 years when the Mittelrhein-Museum in Koblenz presents the first retrospective of her oeuvre. Altogether 105 paintings, objects and works on paper from the years 1952 - 72 are exhibited. Also in 1972 she has her first solo exhibition at the Arturo Schwarz Gallery in Milan.
Together with musician and composer David Johnson (also a long time assistant of Stockhausen) she has her third child Sophie.
Her youngest daughter and fourth child Esther with the Israeli artist Joseph Halevi is born.
Already in the late 70ies Mary begins working with water surfaces, crystals and prisms to design pleasure and meditation gardens. Numerous gardens are created as commissional works - also comprising a large garden designed for the Landeszentralbank Wiesbaden. Between 1984 - 86 she develops a roof garden for the Kölnische Rückversicherung; for the Federal German Foreign Office in Bonn she creates the Crystal-Sculpture in an interior garden.
In 1985 Mary participates in the International Crystallography Congress at the Universität Bielefeld where she presents her works in a solo exhibition and discusses 'symmetries and serial processes in art and music' with members of the mathematics faculty.
At the Postnukleare Aktionstage (post-nuclear action days) 1986 in the city of Wuppertal Mary joins political scientists and art historians to discuss the 'socio-political relevance of contemporary art'. The same year the Cologne Kunstverein stages the exhibition Die sechziger Jahre, Kölns Weg zur Kunst-Metropole - vom Happening zum Kunstmarkt (The Sixties - Cologne's road to becoming an art metropolis - from happening to art market) in which Bauermeister likewise takes a prominent role. Two of Mary's works are included in the 1988 exhibition Return to the Object: American and European Art from the Fifties and Sixties presented at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
In the 90ies Mary Bauermeister continues to participate in important exhibitions, e.g. in a group show at the Staempfli Gallery in New York and at the Temporäres Museum Kaufhof Parkhaus in Cologne. In 1995 the Museum of Modern Art in New York invites her to take part in Artists's Choice - Elisabeth Murray, Modern Women. In 1998 Mary's works are displayed in the Kölnische Galerie der Wünsche at the Stadtmuseum Köln.
Exhibition Nicht ans Wort gebunden at the Deutsches Buch und Schriftmuseum in Leipzig.
The Rosenkranz collection is placed on display at the Von der Heydt Museum in Wuppertal; Mary is one of the artists represented.
On the occasion of Mary's 70th birthday, the Cologne Museum Ludwig purchases the sewn picture from the tripartite workgroup Needless Needles from 1963. This work is on permanent display in the museum.
With her sewn picture Needless Needles from 1964 Mary is presented in the exhibition WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution presented at the Los Angeles MoCA, then traveling to the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington to P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in New York and finally at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2009.
In the exhibition Welten in der Schachtel at the Wilhelm Hack Museum Ludwigshafen a wide range of Mary's lens boxes are exhibited, accompanied by works from other renown artist like Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Cornell, Joseph Beuys, Nam June Paik and Andy Warhol.
Mary publishes her first autobiographical book Ich hänge im Triolengitter - Mein Leben mit Karlheinz Stockhausen (Hanging in a triplet grid - my life with Karlheinz Stockhausen).
The retrospective exhibition Kulturgewächs - Spektrum über 60 Jahre is put on display at the Frauenmuseum Bonn. The first in a series of exhibitions at the museum FLUXUS+ in Potsdam Zopf ab takes place.
Exhibition Mary Bauermeister. Die 1950er Jahre at the Leopold-Hoesch-Museum & Papiermuseum in Düren (Germany)
The LVR-LandesMuseum in Bonn acquires Mary's important work All Things Involved In All Other Things, which is on permanent display in the museum. The museum FLUXUS+ in Potsdam exhibits five of Mary's works in the exhibition KUNST(T)RäUME.
Mary picks up techniques she already developed in the sixties and creates a whole new series of pointillistic works on canvas later put on display at the 401 gallery in Berlin. She also assembles a big on-site installation named Zuvielisation at the Mittelrhein Museum in Koblenz within the show Mary Bauermeister-Da capo-Werke aus 60 Jahren which combines a retrospective with new works and participates in the group exhibition Zero - Die internationale Kunstbewegung der 50er und 60er Jahre at Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (Germany).
The Smith College Museum of Art presents Mary's works in the show Mary Bauermeister. The New York Decade. - curated by Linda Muehlig.
Solo exhibition Omniverse at the Pavel Zoubok Gallery, New York (USA).
Solo exhibitions Pli Score Pli at the Kunstmuseum Solingen (Germany) and 1 + 1 = 3 at Studio Gariboldi in Milano (Italy).
Mary also takes part in the group exhibition Zwischen den Zeilen. Kunst in Briefen von Niki de Saint Phalle bis Tracy Emin at the Sprengel Museum in Hannover (Germany).