A Collaboration in Sound and Space
“….I freed Stockhausen from the severity of the Darmstadt School with my chaos and anarchy, and he brought structure and order to my anarchy….And so we had eleven incredibly fruitful years.”
The collaboration of Mary Bauermeister and Karlheinz Stockhausen is an important part of the interwoven narrative of art and music in the twentieth century. A pioneer in electronic music, Stockhausen was a member of the avant-garde circle that gathered in Bauermeister’s Cologne studio. Stockhausen formulated the idea that the structure of Bauermeister’s visual art involved the same basic approach as his own serial technique to music composition.
Their first collaborative work was a groundbreaking musical action performance piece called Originale (Originals), which premiered in Cologne in 1962 and was presented again in 1964 at the New York Festival of the Avante-Garde. Stockhausen began to assimilate the ideas of distortion and magnification that Bauermeister was exploring in her early lens boxes, applying them to an important work called Mikrophonie I (1964). His Momente (Moments, 1962–69) was dedicated to Bauermeister, who is musically “portrayed" in the work. His vocal work Stimmung (Tuning, 1968), an ode to erotic love, was also dedicated to Bauermeister.
Bauermeister and Stockhausen also created a number of objects together, including music boxes. Even as their personal relationship wound down (their marriage ended in divorce in 1973), their collaboration during the decade Bauermeister lived and worked in New York was one of the most productive periods of their artistic lives.
Image: Mary Bauermeister and Karlheinz Stockhausen at the opening of Bauermeister’s solo exhibition at Galeria Bonino, 1965. Image: Galeria Bonino