The artist known only as Lutz Bacher—a pseudonym she adopted as one of her earliest conceptual works—has died at age 75. Born in 1943, long associated with the Bay Area art scene, and based in New York for the last few years, Bacher was as prolific as she was elusive. Her practice spanned large-scale installations, book projects, sculptures, found-object arrangements, works appropriating mass media images and texts, and more, assembling pieces filled with wit and poignancy from fragmentary sources.
She had a very successful career, showing at major museums and galleries throughout the world, all the while remaining impressively mysterious; the photos that do exist of Bacher—like those for a 2018 solo show in Paris—obscure her face. She conducted scant interviews and was known for her characteristically elusive exhibition press releases: her 2008 solo show at Ratio 3 in San Francisco was accompanied by a recipe for butterscotch pudding; her 2015 solo show at Greene Naftali in New York—whose centerpiece was a large-scale projection paying homage to Andy Warhol’s iconic film Empire (1964)—was contextualized with a photo of handwritten misspellings of Lutz Bacher.
Bacher is represented by Greene Naftali as well as Galerie Buchholz, which has locations in Berlin, Cologne, and New York. In addition to showing regularly at both, she kept a steady pace of institutional exhibitions: In 2018 she created an installation at New York University’s 80WSE that featured 100 postcards of Mao Zedong; in 2014, her exhibition at the National Gallery of Denmark included an installation of figures from the science fiction series Star Trek; her 2012 solo show at Alex Zachary Peter Currie involved filling the gallery with 25 tons of sand; her 2009 survey at MoMA PS1 spanned the 1970s to the 2000s. Her contribution to the 2012 Whitney Biennial consisted of a spreading baseballs across the floor of a gallery; she was also included in the 2000 Whitney Biennial and was featured in a project related to the AIDS crisis that was included in the 1991 Whitney Biennial. Her works are included in the permanent collections of SFMOMA, the Museum of Modern Art, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, the Walker Art Center, and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others.