This idea of “looking toward the future” is nonsense. I realized that simply going backwards is better. You stand in the rear of the train—looking at the tracks flying back below—or you stand at the stern of a boat and look back—looking back at what’s gone.
German painter, printmaker, and sculptor Georg Baselitz is a pioneering Neo-Expressionist who rejected abstraction in favor of recognizable subject matter, deliberately employing a raw style of rendering and a heightened palette in order to convey direct emotion. Embracing the German Expressionism that had been denounced by the Nazis, Baselitz returned the human figure to a central position in painting.
Born Hans-Georg Kern in Deutschbaselitz, Saxony, Germany, Baselitz attended the Hochschule für Bildende und Angewandte Kunst in East Berlin, from which he was expelled in 1957 for “sociopolitical immaturity.” He then moved to West Berlin, where he attended the Hochschule der Künste and completed his postgraduate studies in 1962. It was during this time that he changed his surname to Baselitz. From his youth, Baselitz had been interested in the German Expressionists’ use of “primitive” sources such as folk art, children’s art, and art of the mentally ill. To assert his independence from popular art of the postwar years, Baselitz and fellow artist Eugen Schönebeck wrote the manifesto “Pandemonium” (1960–62), a violent and shocking expression of the frustration of working in postwar Germany. In 1963 Baselitz had his first solo exhibition, which was an immediate scandal: the painting Die große Nacht im Eimer (Big Night Down the Drain, 1962–63), depicting a distorted figure holding an oversized phallus, was removed from the exhibition due to charges of obscenity and not returned to Baselitz until the conclusion of a lengthy trial. In 1965 Baselitz turned to the subject of “heroes.” Painted in thick impasto, the Helden (Heroes, 1965–66)—also known as the Neue Typen (New Types or New Guys)—portray men standing within natural landscapes. Disheveled and fragmented, these war-torn figures elicit an emotional response in the viewer as they evoke the events of recent history.
In 1969 Baselitz began to paint and display his subjects upside down in order to slow down his process of painting as well as the viewer’s comprehension of the motif. These iconic paintings, depicting inverted figures, landscapes, and still lifes, achieve a form of abstraction while maintaining figuration. Through the 1980s, his work took on an added density as he further employed a wide range of formal and historical references, including the paintings of Edvard Munch and Emil Nolde. Concurrently, he began creating large-scale sculptures made of painted wood, presenting these works for the first time at the 1980 Biennale di Venezia, where he showed Modell fur eine Skulptur (Model for a Sculpture, 1979–80).
The paintings that Baselitz produced between 1990 and 2010 marked another shift in his practice, displaying a more linear and abstract approach to the figure. In the Remix series (2005–08), Baselitz revisited his earlier works, graphically re-presenting his prior subjects such that their subtle meanings and technical innovations were made more explicit. In 2015 Baselitz’s Avignon paintings—a suite of eight towering nude self-portraits—were featured in the Biennale di Venezia. The following year related self-portraits with spectral figures were presented at Gagosian, West 21st Street, New York. In 2017–18 a large retrospective of Baselitz’s work was presented at the Fondation Beyeler, Riehen, Switzerland, and at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC.
Photo: Elke Baselitz
Recent Works on Paper
February 8–March 24, 2017
Jumping Over My Shadow
September 20–October 29, 2016
West 21st Street, New York
Visit from Hokusai
January 21–March 18, 2016
Visit from Hokusai
November 7–December 19, 2015
980 Madison Avenue, New York
February 13–March 29, 2014
Britannia Street, London
February 28–April 7, 2012
West 21st Street, New York
La Grande Notte in Bianco
September 23–November 8, 2008
November 9–December 22, 2007
West 24th Street, New York
Fairs, Events & Announcements
Through March 2019
Georg Baselitz has designed the set for a new reiteration of Parsifal at the Nationaltheater. The opera, composed by Richard Wagner, was first performed in Bayreuth, Germany, in 1882. To attend the event, purchase tickets at www.staatsoper.de.
Artwork © Georg Baselitz. Photo: Wilfried Hösl
June 14–17, 2018
Messe Basel, booth B11
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel 2018, presenting works by modern and contemporary artists including Georg Baselitz, John Chamberlain, Dan Colen, John Currin, Willem de Kooning, Urs Fischer, Helen Frankenthaler, Ellen Gallagher, Jennifer Guidi, Andreas Gursky, Neil Jenney, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Henri Matisse, Takashi Murakami, Giuseppe Penone, Pablo Picasso, Richard Prince, Sterling Ruby, Richard Serra, Rudolf Stingel, Mark Tansey, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Mary Weatherford, and Tom Wesselmann. To receive a PDF with detailed information on the works, please contact the gallery at email@example.com. To preview our booth go to www.artsy.net. To purchase tickets to attend the fair go to www.artbasel.com.
Georg Baselitz, Frau am Strand (Woman on the Beach), 1981 © Georg Baselitz 2018
Art Basel Hong Kong
March 29–31, 2018, booth ICI8
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel Hong Kong. To view highlights from the booth in advance of the fair visit www.artsy.com. Our presentation will include works by Georg Baselitz, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Joe Bradley, Cecily Brown, Glenn Brown, Alexander Calder, John Currin, Willem de Kooning, Edmund De Waal, Jean Dubuffet, Urs Fischer, Lucio Fontana, Walton Ford, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Andreas Gursky, Damien Hirst, Jia Aili, Anish Kapoor, Yves Klein, Karen Kneffel, Jeff Koons, Harmony Korine, Roy Lichtenstein, Takashi Murakami, Takashi Murakami & Virgil Abloh, Albert Oehlen, Nam June Paik, Francis Picabia, Pablo Picasso, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Jenny Saville, Richard Serra, Rudolf Stingel, Mark Tansey, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Jonas Wood, Christopher Wool, and Zeng Fanzhi. Tickets are available at www.artbasel.com.
Zeng Fanzhi, 8, 2018 © Zeng Fanzhi 2018
Through November 4, 2018
Musée Unterlinden, Colmar, France
Corpus Baselitz will mark the first exhibition in a French museum of a new and significant body of work by Georg Baselitz. The show will consist of paintings, drawings, and sculptures, all created between 2014 and 2017, in which the artist examines his own body, and through it, his place in the history of art.
Georg Baselitz, Ach rosa, ach rosa, 2015 © Georg Baselitz 2018. Photo: Jochen Littkemann, Berlin
Selections from the Peter Marino Collection
July 28–September 23, 2018
Southampton Arts Center, New York
In 1978 Peter Marino acquired an artwork from Andy Warhol. Since then, the Peter Marino Collection has grown to encompass hundreds of paintings and mixed-media pieces representing some of the most notable artists of today. Work by Georg Baselitz, Glenn Brown, Damien Hirst, Anselm Kiefer, Richard Prince, and Andy Warhol is included.
Georg Baselitz, Lehr nich ratte much wilm (Lelf bal wile), 2013 © Georg Baselitz 2018
June 21–September 16, 2018
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC
The Hirshhorn Museum brings together more than eighty paintings and ten sculptures from the years 1959 to 2017 to mark Georg Baselitz’s eightieth birthday. These powerful works from every phase of the artist’s career form a focused retrospective. This exhibition has traveled from the Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel.
Georg Baselitz, Mann im Mond–Franz Pforr (Man in the Moon–Franz Pforr), 1965 © Georg Baselitz 2018. Photo: Jochen Littkemann
Nonconformism as a Source of Imagination
March 3–May 27, 2018
Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Germany
This exhibition brings graphics by Georg Baselitz into an exciting dialogue with significant Mannerist pieces. In the 1960s, a new era began in reproductive graphics—with silkscreen and offset printing—but Baselitz turned his back on such forms of mass production because of their lack of originality. Instead, he experimented with state proofs, producing small series of works, some of which he altered individually after the impression was taken.
Georg Baselitz, Untitled, 1966 © Georg Baselitz 2018