Visual Arts in Ayrshire

The Maclaurin Art Collection  ~  Middle Period Purchase

Elvira Bach  b.1951

1.   Bach

2.   Bach

3.   Bach


Elvira Bach  b.1951

1.   Der Tag Beginnt, 1983.  Elvira Bach  Oil on canvas, 1702 x 1355 mm.   Maclaurin Art Collection.   Purchased from Edward Totah Gallery, London.

2.    Elvira Bach präsentiert bis zum 06. November 2011 ihre neuen Werke der Strecke 'Von Mir Aus' im Berliner Haus am Lützowplatz.  Publicity photograph, ©Haus am Lützowplatz culture centre, Berlin

3.    Elvira Bach, Elvira Bach, Malerin und Bildhauerin, Deutschland (Painter and Sculptor),  Photograph by ©Undine Hradil, schwarz-weiß Fotografie, Berlin.

Within the context of the collection, this work was something of a wild card. It's relevance to the collection profile was not immediately obvious and, if it was regarded by the purchasers as the first step in representing young European figurative artists, it might be considered an unrewarding cul de sac, standing alone among mainstream British works and without immediate relevance to the Scottish works acquired during the same period. .

With hindsight, as the collection developed and the exhibition programme became more international in outlook, this work gained in relevance.   Living and working in Berlin, Bach was associated with the vitality and enthusiasm of the younger members of the artistic community and, increasingly, the vibrancy of this Berlin Art scene was to entice many Scottish artists, who had links with the Maclaurin Art Gallery, into a dialogue with the cultural life of that city.

Der tag beginnt fitted into the gallery profile in a remarkable way. At the time of this purchase, German Art was of great interest in Britain, with much attention centred on the expressionist output of a range of significant contemporary figures.  This was the time of Robert Hughes' Shock of the New and Norman Rosenthal's ground breaking exhibition, 'A New Spirit in Painting', at London's Royal Academy and Zeitgeist at the Martin-Gropius-Bau.

In parallel with these exciting developments, mainstream activity in Britain was still focussed on the neue sachlichkeit (social realism) movements of the inter war years and the reaction to the the successor in Germany of the Entartete Kunst reviled by Goebbels and his contemporaries.

By 1980, painters throughout the Federal Republic were responding to contemporary issues.   Key figures, of the neo-expressioist persuasion, teaching in the art schools, such as Georg Baselitz, Anselm Keifer and Rainer Fetting, had a dramatic impact on this post war German art and it was, perhaps, inevitable that they should attract the interest of young Scottish painters. Bach was associated with the junge wilde grouping of painters    In purchasing this work, the Maclaurin Trust was reflecting the consuming interest and passion for figurative art in the Federal Republic.

In the early 1980's a wide variety of contemporary German Art could be seen in London.  Later, it arrived in Scotland, where it found an enthusiastic audience among the students, leading to a series of exchanges between Scotland and Berlin.  Some of the leading German Galleries had a presence in London, notably the Raab Gallery of berlin, who represented many of the key German figures, including Elvira Bach.  Today, although the gallery has retreated to berlin, their stable of artists includes a number of Scottish figures.

Der tag beginnt was encountered during a visit to the Edward Totah Gallery in London to view works by Anna Maria Pacheco and Paula Rego, both artists under active consideration for inclusion in the maclaurin Art Collection. Acquisition of Bach's work was seen as the first of a series of purchase of figurative works from exhibitions at Edward Totah's Gallery.  Interestingly, careful consideration of various works by there artists did not result in purchases. 

Work identified by Struan Stevenson and championed by himself and Mike Bailey.

[Text based on personal recollections, Bach's Biographies and the Art Directory.]

Elvira Bach

Elvira Bach was born in 1951 in Neuenhain,a suburb of Bad Soden in the Taunus. Between 1967 and 1970 she attended the state Glasfachschule in Hadamar.  Two years later, she moves to Berlin to study painting with Hann Trier at der Hochschule der Künste.

While studying (from 1972 to 1979) Bach worked part-time at the Schaubühne am Halleschen Ufertheater, as property master, usher and prompter .

In 1981 Bach spent three months in Santa Domingp (Dominican Republic) as an artist in residence.  In 1982 she was invited to participate in the 'Documenta VII', as a representative of the "Junge Wilde" movement.  The following year she exhibited with the Raab Galerie in London and Berlin, followed by a show at the Edward Totah Gallery in London.

Numerous exhibitions followed in museums and art associations, presenting a series of sensual, energetic images, which were often decorated in bright tones, speaking through a powerful, even aggressive visual language. Addressing her subjective themes through a sensually bright palette and clearly defined angular forms, the recurring subject is the woman in her sex-determined existence, usually with similar features - in fact it's Elvira Bach herself. The central and recurring theme in Elvira Bach's work during this early period is the female gender in their existence and eternally alluring femininity. 

In her work of the 1980's she specializes in images of women who, as more than one commentator has noted, are remarkably like her, with a proclivity for big earrings and thick lipstick.  During this period the snake begins an important role in her the paintings. ‘Women aren't like snakes, they are snakes’, she told an interviewer. She quickly capitalized on her Documenta success with designs for wine labels, biscuit tins, and a tea service, activities which may have led to a decline in her reputation in the art world.

Her strongly sensual energy was transformed around the end of the 1980s towards a more reserved style. 'I know that I have lived many things to the full', said Elvira Bach in retrospect - for her the necessary experience in order to continue her work as an artist in a more relaxed manner and within a new area.

Between 1986 and 1992, Elvira Bach spent time in Senegal. During this period and in subsequent years Bach also created a range of large-scale sculptures. 

The artist lives and works in Berlin.

[Text based on personal recollections, Bach's Biographies, 'Sign and Sight' and the Art Directory.]

Note:- As an artist, Hann Trier created his own abstract image language, influenced by Paul Klee and Juan Gris' synthetic Cubism. The painter soon disengaged from the geometric austerity of coloured areas and tried to depict the principle of speed and acceleration. The line, which in his eyes depicts energy and movement, became an important element in his pictures. In this he can be associated with Hans Hartung, by whom he was strongly influenced during this period of his work.


This page is based on recollections by Mike Bailey , and other published sources.   Mrs Mary E Maclaurin's Trust is a Registered Scottish Charity

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Maclaurin Art Collection ~ Updated March 5, 2016