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
Extended through March 23, 2019
January 24–March 23, 2019
West 24th Street, New York
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
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2019
The Spring 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Red Pot with Lute Player #2 by Jonas Wood on its cover.
Georg Baselitz speaks with Sir Norman Rosenthal on the subject of his latest work. The two discuss these paintings, all depictions of self-portraits by artists from the past and present, and what it means to pay homage.
Morgan Falconer visits the artist’s studio outside Munich to learn more about his newest paintings, a series entitled Devotion.
Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now
In partnership with English Heritage
Thursday, April 25, 2019, 6pm
Gagosian, Grosvenor Hill, London
Gagosian director and art historian Richard Calvocoressi will lead a tour of the exhibition Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now at Gagosian, Grosvenor Hill, London. Calvocoressi will take a look at postwar and contemporary masters of self-representation, anchoring the conversation to an important Rembrandt masterpiece included in the exhibition, Self-Portrait with Two Circles (c. 1665).
The event has reached capacity. To join the wait list, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait with Two Circles, c. 1665, English Heritage, The Iveagh Bequest (Kenwood, London). Photo: Historic England Photo Library
Art Basel Hong Kong
March 29–31, 2019, booth 1C18
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel Hong Kong 2019, with works by Georg Baselitz, Edmund de Waal, Urs Fischer, Katharina Grosse, Andreas Gursky, Duane Hanson, Damien Hirst, Thomas Houseago, Yayoi Kusama, René Magritte, Giorgio Morandi, Takashi Murakami, Albert Oehlen, Nam June Paik, Richard Prince, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann, Rachel Whiteread, Jonas Wood, Christopher Wool, Zao Wou-Ki, Zeng Fanzhi, and others.
Zeng Fanzhi, Rooster, 2019 © 2019 Zeng Fanzhi
“Georg Baselitz: Devotion”
with Morgan Falconer
Thursday, February 14, 2019, 6:30–8pm
Gagosian, West 24th Street, New York
In conjunction with the 2019 College Art Association Annual Conference in New York, critic and art historian Morgan Falconer will lead a tour of Georg Baselitz: Devotion at Gagosian, West 24th Street, New York. Falconer will discuss Baselitz’s new paintings and works on paper and the artist’s interest in portraiture. To attend the free event, RSVP to email@example.com. Space is limited and will be granted on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Georg Baselitz, Piet M., 2018 © Georg Baselitz. Photo: Jochen Littkemann
Emilio Vedova di/by Georg Baselitz
Through November 3, 2019
Fondazione Emilio e Annabianca Vedova, Venice
To celebrate the centenary of the birth of Emilio Vedova, Georg Baselitz has curated an exhibition of works by the Italian artist. The show presents two series of black-and-white works on canvas that mark significant moments in Vedova’s long and complex artistic career.
Emilio Vedova and Georg Baselitz at documenta 7, Kassel, Germany, 1982. Photo: Benjamin Katz
Baselitz – Academy
May 8–September 8, 2019
Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice
Baselitz – Academy, a major retrospective of works by Georg Baselitz, is the first exhibition by a living artist at the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice. The exhibition traces the critical junctures in the artist’s extraordinary sixty-year career through paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures, including rarely seen works exploring the artist’s relationship with Italy and the academic tradition. Two monumental works created specifically for this show are also on view. This is a Collateral Event of the 58th International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia, organized with support from Gagosian.
Georg Baselitz, Schlafzimmer (Bedroom), 1975 © Georg Baselitz. Photo: Jochen Littkemann
June 10–November 4, 2018
Musée Unterlinden, Colmar, France
Corpus Baselitz marks the first exhibition in a French museum of a new and significant body of work by Georg Baselitz. The show consists 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