Lothar Baumgarten (b. 1944)

The Origin of the Night (Amazon Cosmos) (1973-77)

German sculptor and installation artist. He attended the Staatlichen Akademie für bildende Künste, Karlsruhe (1968) and the Staatlichen Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (1969–71), where he studied for a year under Joseph Beuys. Baumgarten is known for his sculptures with ecological themes, drawn primarily from his travels among Native North and South Americans. His anthropological investigations have also found expression in films, books, photographs and writings. His reflections on the historica lproblems associated with colonialism arguably found better expression in site-specific works using words, such as the wall painting Monument for the South American Indian Nations (1982), installed at Documenta 7, Kassel. In this he mounted the names of Native South Americans around the circular base of a skylight in the Museum Fredericianum in Kassel. This and other works drew attention to the inscription of colonial power through re-naming. This approach was given a different colonial context in Accès aux quais (tableaux parisiens) (exh. Paris, Mus. A. Mod. Ville Paris, 1985–6; destr.), in which Baumgarten displayed a Métro line map, the names of the stations altered to refer to French colonial activity. America Invention, displayed at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1993 again used names of tribes and symbolic colours inscribed upon the museum's walls. In the 1997 DocumentaX in Kassel, Baumgarten exhibited the archives of his stay with the Yanomani, anthropological photographs that raise questions concerning Western perception of tribal life and relate Baumgarten's efforts to the tradition of Kulturkritik in German thought.