artist / participant
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 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 wealthy woman 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 began an illicit affair 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. The Guggenheim Museum, once planned to house Bauer’s creations, opened without a single of his paintings on its walls. Over 300 of Bauer’s great works were relegated to the Guggenheim Museum’s basement, 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. "Bauer: Why Are His Masterpieces in Guggenheim’s Basement?", “Betrayal: The Life and Art of Rudolf Bauer,” and the upcoming exhibition of the artist’s work will reinvigorate discussion and appreciation of Bauer’s contributions to modern art, and of his incredible and scandalous 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.