Art and Friendship
Mary Bauermeister created the present work over the course of two years in the 1960s not long after she moved to New York from Germany, seeking (and finding) more artistic freedom. Upon settling in the city, she very swiftly entered the art world, joining Galeria Bonino in the winter of 1963 and mounting her first solo exhibition in 1964. She would remain in New York for ten years and developed many lasting friendships with fellow artists and creators, among them Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, and Hans Namuth.
Namuth, like Bauermeister, was a German native. A photographer, he specialized in portraiture and photographed many important artistic figures at work in their studios, including Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Robert Rauschenberg, and Bauermeister. He and his wife, Carmen, ran in the same artistic circles as Bauermeister, who gifted the couple the present lot after crossing paths and becoming close friends. One can only imagine Hans and Mary’s shared experiences as both native Germans and restless creative spirits strengthened their bond.
Art is for Centuries is an exceptional example of her work from the period, incorporating two and three-dimensional elements as well as the written word. Bauermeister’s specific interest in “a nostalgic memory of a predigital epoch” can be seen in her inclusion of not only words, but hands holding various implements, harkening back to a time before computers or digitization. The title itself is somewhat cheeky, in keeping with Bauermeister’s penchant for humor: art is for centuries whereas we, humans, are not. As is the case with all of her creations, Bauermeister mentally engages the viewer and asks us to do more than simply look, rather, she encourages us to delve deeper and consider our broader existence in the universe.