When Peter Baum was appointed director of the Neue Galerie der Stadt Linz in 1974, he was just thirty-four, making him the youngest museum director in Austria. In 2004, exactly thirty years later, Baum retired as founding director of its successor institution, Kunstmuseum LENTOS, on which he had exerted such a profound influence, and returned to his birthplace Vienna.
Between 1962 and 1973, Baum had worked as an art critic and cultural journalist in Vienna, organizing exhibitions for the Galerie auf der Stubenbastei and Galerie am Schottenring. With the opening of the Museum of the Twentieth Century under Director Werner Hofmann in 1962, a new standard was set in art. This museum was housed in the former Austrian Pavilion from the Brussels Expo, adapted by Karl Schwanzer, the building that is now the 21er Haus. In the same way as Otto Mauer at the Galerie St. Stephan from 1955, Hofmann and his successor Alfred Schmeller not only opened up Austria to the international art world but also incorporated the lively, expanding plurality of the art scene.
Ever since childhood Peter Baum had been interested in photography. In his school days he photographed well-known personalities, such as Burgtheater actors and actresses Attila Hörbiger, Josef Meinrad, and Judith Holzmeister. Later on, while working as a journalist, Peter Baum’s portrayals of artists and reportage photos were regularly published in many of his exhibition reviews for Austrian daily newspapers. Baum, now seventy-five, recently gave the Belvedere a striking selection of photographs he took between 1962 and 1973 at 20er Haus press conferences and openings. Not only are these works of art in their own right, but these pictorial documents have now also gained historical significance.
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