Baumgardner was inspired by a wide-range of artists and movements from the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His collection of art books demonstrates a particular interest in the work of Paul Klee, Donald Judd, Abstract Expressionism, and the Bauhaus. Klee, who takes up more space on his bookshelf than any other artist, profoundly influenced Baumgardner’s style and artistic process–his oldest daughter, Zoe Klee, is even named after the Swiss artist. His familiarity with twentieth-century art history allowed Baumgardner to situate his cubes within the conceptual legacy of Minimalist sculpture. Like Baumgardner, artists associated with Minimalism used the cube form to explore the essence of reality through geometric form, but resisted being “boxed-in” to any particular movement
Despite a profound wariness of technology, Baumgardner frequently set aside time on his daily docket to watch a movie. His extensive collection of over 2000 DVDs evidences a wide-ranging taste in films—from When Harry Met Sally to Jaws—but he had a particular affinity for futuristic sci-fi adventures and epic narratives with spiritual overtones. He included Lord of the Rings and 2001: A Space Odyssey, amongst his favorite movies. Baumgardner drew inspiration from innumerable sources, and his love of film cannot be excluded from his creative network.
Like many modern artists, Baumgardner found profound meaning and joy in children’s art. A devoted father, he was inspired by his four daughters and marveled at their innate artistic talents. He also enjoyed leading programs for children, as these journal entries attest. More than just aesthetics, he subscribed to the idea that children’s art is a matter of chance discovery, rather than intention. While many of the glyphs and markings in his work appear random, just as a child scribbles on a piece of paper, these unpremeditated marks are part of a modernist history of artists trying to regain the purity and innocence of the child-like, and a way to recapture their intuitive flow and emotional connection.