NEW YORK, NY.- A new play, public television documentary special, and gallery exhibition will resurrect the life and work of modernist artist Rudolf Bauer, one of the 20th century's most important, yet nearly forgotten, painters. The astonishing paintings. The multiple affairs. The deception. The treachery. And the non-objective art that offered a new way of looking at the world.
Bauer,a new play by Lauren Gunderson, will have its New York premiere at New York City's 59E59 Theaters on September 2, after an acclaimed production at the San Francisco Playhouse, and "Betrayal: The Life and Art of Rudolf Bauer," a documentary narrated by Linda Hunt, will be broadcast on THIRTEEN, the public television station serving the New York metropolitan area, on Monday, August 25th at 9:00 p.m. In addition, the German Consulate General (871 United Nations Plaza) will host an exhibition of Rudolf Bauer's masterpieces from September 2-19.
Born in Germany in 1889, Bauer had been a well-regarded painter and illustrator for several years when, in 1916, he met the young painter Hilla Rebay. The two became furiously passionate companions and lovers, and Hilla the vocal champion of Bauer's growing body of "non-objective" art. In the years to follow, Rebay, a Baroness with connections to New York's high society, would meet Solomon Guggenheim and introduce him to Bauer and his work. Infatuated with both Rebay and Bauer, Guggenheim sought to purchase every Bauer painting he could find, and developed a close relationship with the enchanting Hilla. In 1938, Bauer was arrested by the Nazis for his "degenerate art," placed in a prison camp, and eventually freed thanks to a bribe sourced by Guggenheim who brought him to America. In 1959, after Guggenheim's death, the Guggenheim Museum opened. It was once planned to house Bauer's creations, but opened without a single of his paintings on its walls. Over 300 of Bauer's great works were relegated to the Guggenheim Museum's warehouses, where they remained for decades. Most were sold. Betrayal and scandal caused him to stop painting forever and Bauer's name was scarcely heard in the art world again for 75 years, until this September in New York.
The play, the documentary and the upcoming exhibition will reinvigorate discussion and appreciation of Bauer's contributions to modern art, and of his shocking and heartbreaking life entwined with Hilla Rebay, Solomon Guggenheim, and others at the forefront of 20th century art.
"After many years of disregard, Bauer is finally reinstated in his place as an eminent figure in the history of abstract painting," explains Peter Selz in his recent essay, "Rudolf Bauer Revisited." Selz is Professor Emeritus of Art History at the University of California, Berkeley/founding Director of the University Art Museum and past chief curator of the Department of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.