Art Dealer Inge Baecker, Who Championed Fluxus and Action Artists, Is Among the Dead in Germany’s Devastating Floods

The veteran art dealer was caught in her home without a respirator by a flash flood.

A woman wades down a flooded street following heavy rains in Liege, on July 15, 2021. Photo: Bruno Fahy/Belga/AFP. Belgium OUT via Getty Images.
A woman wades down a flooded street following heavy rains in Liege, on July 15, 2021. Photo: Bruno Fahy/Belga/AFP. Belgium OUT via Getty Images.

German gallery owner Inge Baecker was among the victims who died during the devastating floods in Western Europe. The Bad Münstereifel-based dealer and art historian represented several Fluxus and action artists, including Nam June Paik and Allan Kaprow.

Germany and Belgium have been experiencing record floods that have destroyed entire towns. So far, 188 people are known to have died in Europe, according to Reuters. Hundreds are still missing and many are without power or running water.

According to German media reports, Baecker was suffering from an illness and had to use a respirator in her house at the time of the flooding. The reports state that when the battery of the respirator failed, she was too exhausted to continue calling for help.

Baecker began working with Kaprow in 1970, the year she opened her gallery, first in Bochum and later in Cologne. She also organized an acclaimed exhibition for John Cage at the Kunsthalle in Düsseldorf in 1975. Over her career she worked with many German institutions, and had close ties to members of the art scenes in Brazil, Russian, and Turkey.

The last exhibition at her space, “Visions to the Universe,” which included work by Ugo Dossi, Stephan Reusse, and Mary Bauermeister, opened in September 2020. Though the gallery was still active, it had not opened a new exhibition since then.

Baecker opened her space in Bad Münstereifel in 2003. The small city was one of the worst-hit in the summer floods.

Meanwhile, Burg Blessem, a 13th-century castle in the city of Erftstadt has been partially destroyed in a mudslide caused by the sudden flood and Lüdenscheid’s Neuenhof Castle, which dates to the 17th-century, has also been damaged. A special container used specifically for cultural heritage protection arrived today from Cologne to Arwheiler, one of the worst affected areas, to attempt to wash mud off the city’s archives and store them until further steps can be taken.

Germany has promised €300 million ($354 million) in immediate aid and billions more in the months to come to help repair and replace houses, streets, and bridges.


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