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Sotheby's Gallery in New York announces a retrospective selling exhibition of works by Rudolf Bauer
Rudolf Bauer, Third Symphony in Three Movements, Triptych (center panel). Oil on canvas, 51 3/8 by 61 1/4 in. Painted in 1930-34. Photo: Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s Gallery will present the selling exhibition Rudolf Bauer: Tomorrow Today in New York from 22 September – 10 October 2014. The retrospective, featuring more than 40 masterworks by the German artist, coincides with the 75th anniversary of Art of Tomorrow, the landmark opening exhibition at Solomon Guggenheim's Museum of Non-Objective Painting.

Having established himself at Galerie Der Sturm in the early-20th century alongside Paul Klee, Franz Marc and Wassily Kandinsky, Bauer was anointed as the foremost non-objective artist and became the centerpiece of Solomon Guggenheim’s founding collection. However, scandal and betrayal led Bauer to abandon painting prematurely, and ultimately caused his legacy to be largely omitted from the modern Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s program and, indeed, history.

Rudolf Bauer: Tomorrow Today combines key works from all points in his career and across all media: dramatic lyrical canvases, mesmerizing geometric compositions and exquisite works on paper, which reveal the vanguard genius and enduring influence of abstraction’s forgotten pioneer. The exhibition will be the largest, most important solo exhibition ever held in New York since the artist’s lifetime, and the first retrospective look at the artist’s career in New York since 1985. Among the highlights of the show are many of major works once owned by Solomon Guggenheim, and asking prices will range from $8,000 to more than $1 million.

Julian Dawes, Specialist in Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department in New York, commented: “We are excited to join the series of events this fall that will raise awareness of Rudolf Bauer as an influential yet often-unfamiliar figure in 20th century art. Despite his status as a contemporary of and leader among celebrated names like Kandinsky, Klee and Moholy-Nagy, personal and professional scandal caused Bauer to be overlooked in art history. As a corollary, his work had been
undervalued in the market until very recently, when increased awareness of his impressive oeuvre has resulted in a surge in bidding and buying. We look forward to sharing his story with many more collectors and connoisseurs, for whom this exhibition offers an excellent opportunity to acquire works that represent the very best of non-objectivist art.”

Born in Germany in 1889, Rudolf 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 passionate companions and lovers, and Rebay 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 painting by the artist that he could find.

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. The two entered into a contract in which, in exchange for a home in Deal, New Jersey, a custom car and monthly payments from a trust, Guggenheim’s Foundation would own all future work done by Bauer – a fact which the artist did not fully understand at the time of signing. Once he realized the implications of the contract, he ceased painting for the remainder of his life.

In 1959, after Guggenheim’s death, the Solomon R. 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 museum’s warehouses, where they remained for decades. Most were sold. The man who was once at the forefront of modern art has scarcely been heard of in the art world in the last 75 years.

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