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
Visions of the Self: Jenny Saville on Rembrandt
Jenny Saville reveals the process behind her new self-portrait, painted in response to Rembrandt’s masterpiece Self-Portrait with Two Circles.
Gagosian Quarterly Summer 2019
The Summer 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a detail from Afrylic by Ellen Gallagher 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.
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.
Académie des Beaux-Arts Foreign Associate Member
Georg Baselitz has been elected a foreign associate member of the prestigious Académie des Beaux-Arts, one of five institutions comprising the Institut de France. Baselitz joins ten other foreign members, taking the seat previously held by the late Polish film director Andrzej Wajda.
Dedicated to the fine arts, the Académie des Beaux-Arts encourages artistic creation and ensures the defense of France’s cultural heritage by awarding prizes to both emerging and recognized artists, organizing competitions, funding artist residencies, and granting aid to artistic projects, events, and associations. As an advisory body to the French public authorities, it is organized around the notion of multidisciplinarity, bringing together members within eight different artistic sections, foreign associate members, and corresponding members.
Georg Baselitz, Ammersee, Germany, 2018. Photo: Martin Müller
West Bund Art & Design 2019
November 8–10, 2019, booth A121
West Bund Art Center, Shanghai
Gagosian is pleased to participate in West Bund Art & Design 2019, presenting works by Georg Baselitz, Joe Bradley, Urs Fischer, Helen Frankenthaler, Mark Grotjahn, Damien Hirst, Thomas Houseago, Robert Indiana, Jeff Koons, Joan Mitchell, Nam June Paik, Richard Prince, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Mark Tansey, Mary Weatherford, Tom Wesselmann, and Jonas Wood, among others.
To receive a PDF with detailed information on the works, please contact the gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joe Bradley, Daylight, 2019 © Joe Bradley
Art Basel 2019
June 13–16, 2019, booth C9
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel, presenting works by Georg Baselitz, Joe Bradley, Alexander Calder, Willem de Kooning, Urs Fischer, Ellen Gallagher, Alberto Giacometti, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Jeff Koons, Man Ray, Albert Oehlen, Pablo Picasso, Richard Prince, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Andy Warhol, Mary Weatherford, Tom Wesselmann, and Franz West, among others.
Jeff Koons, Sacred Heart (Magenta/Gold), 1994–2007 © Jeff Koons
Die jungen Jahre der Alten Meister
Through January 5, 2020
Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Germany
Anselm Kiefer, Wege, 1977–80 © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Charles Duprat
Emilio Vedova di/by Georg Baselitz
April 18–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–October 6, 2019
Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice
Baselitz – Academy, a major retrospective of works by Georg Baselitz curated by Kosme de Barañano, 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