Posted in artist, boys and girls, Hilla von Rebay, Louise Bauer, mordern art, risque, Rudolf Bauer, Solomon Guggenheim, the Guggenheim Museum of Art

Who was Rudolf Bauer? and "Boys and Girls"

Why would a prolific modernist painter suddenly stop making art?

“Bauer,” Lauren Gunderson’s drama at 59E59 Theaters through October 12th, is based on a true art mystery: what made Rudolph Bauer  (Howard Sherman,) the leading modernist of his generation, quit? He abandoned his legacy to Kandinsky, who is better known today as a master of modern art.

Did Hilla Rebay (Stacy Ross,) once the love of Bauer’s life, betray him when she made him sign over all his work and his future artworks to Solomon  Guggenheim?

Howard Sherman and Stacy Ross in Lauren Gunderson’s “Bauer” at 59E59
Theaters. Photo by Carol Rosegg

The play begins thirteen years after Bauer began his self-imposed exile in New Jersey. His wife, Louise (Susi Damiliano) has engineered a meeting between the former lovers who have not spoken in all those years.Modern art was in defiance to the Nazis, who abhorred it. Bauer seemed to like to defy. Guggenheim was his patron, who not only rescued him from the Nazis but also gave him a house, a Dusenberg, and a stipend, none of which satisfied Bauer.

It seems like  there should be drama in the anticipation of this meeting. Will they resolve their difference? Can Bauer return to his easel and create new masterworks? Despite decent performances, it’s hard to get engaged in Bauer’s ruined career or his motives.

As Louise, Susi Damiliano gives a resilient performance. Howard Sherman is convincing as the stubborn and perhaps broken artist. However, as the story unwinds,  it barely keeps our interest.

 Rudolf Bauer (Howard Sherman) welcomes Hilla von Rebay (Stacy Ross)
as his wife Louise (Susi Damiliano) stands by  in Lauren Gunderson’s “Bauer” at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

“Bauer,” originally produced at the San Francisco Plyhouse, is mostly talk, although the staging attempts to enliven. There are some nice projections (design by Micah J. Stieglitz, with scenic design by Ewa Muszynska), showing the artist’s work and setting recollections.

The Weinstein Galleries are showing of Bauer’s art to coincide with the New York production of the play. Sotheby’s is auctioning off works by Bauer from September 22nd to October 10th.

Also at 59E59 Theaters: “Boys and Girls,” written and directed by Dylan Coburn Gray, is part of Origin’s 1st Irish 2014. Confessedly, it was the promise of the risqué that brought me to the theater, and the failure to fulfill it that had us take an early departure, not awaiting the climax as it were.

“Boys and Girls” is billed as being “naughty” — if having  a young and pretty girl utter the dreaded “c” word can be considered ribald, then “Boys and Girls” is that.

Seán Doyle, Maeve O’Mahony, Claire O’Reilly, and Ronan Carey Seán Doyle in “Boys and Girls”written and directed by
Dylan Coburn Gray, part of 1st Irish at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by Carol Rosegg

The format of the play is a series of monologues in which the eponymous quartet take turns telling their love stories. Sweet young foul-mouthed things they are, too.

For more information on “Bauer” and “Boys and Girls,” please visit 59e59.org

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