Monika Baumgartl (b.1942) is a German photographer and performance artist. She studied photography in Hofheim am Taunus in the late 1960s before moving to Düsseldorf to become an actress and assistant to the filmmaker and television art pioneer Gerry Schum. In the 1970s, Baumgartl organized performances and joint exhibitions with Klaus Rinke, one of the co-founders of the Düsseldorf School.
Baumgartl’s diverse body of work is united by her interest in time and movement. Perhaps inspired by the ephemeral medium of performance art, Baumgartl’s characteristic photographic series of the 1970s document sprouting seeds, the lunar cycle and other processes. Of particular resonance is ‘Week of World Trade Center Symphony’: the series of photographs Baumgartl took of the World Trade Center when she visited New York in 1978. In this series of seven photographs, the moon is outshone by the electric lights of the twin towers and by the ribbon of light etched across the sky by a passing jet.
Since the 1980s, Baumgartl’s attention has shifted away from photography towards Taiko, Japanese drum music. In 1988, she founded Tentekko, a pioneering group who have helped to introduce the art of Taiko to European audiences. Baumgartl continues to live and work in Düsseldorf.
Solo exhibitions of Baumgartl’s work have been held institutions across Europe and the United States, including MoMA PS1 in New York (1978), Gallery Ztichlá Klika in Prague (2011), and Projektraum Ventilator 24 in Berlin (2018). She has also exhibited alongside the likes of Sol Lewitt and Vita Acconci in the 10th Tokyo Biennale (1970), Documenta 5 (1972) and Documenta 6 (1977). More recently, she has participated in group exhibitions at the Edinburgh College of Art (2005), Moscow House of Photography (2011), and Düsseldorf Photo (2018).