Most of what you see as freedom is de Kooning.
Gagosian London is pleased to present Farewell Bill, an exhibition of new paintings by Georg Baselitz.
Seeking to expand the scope of traditional representation in art, Baselitz has constantly revisited and reimagined his chosen subjects over time. In this new series, he co-opts figuration as a vehicle for expression in energized, intuitively painted self-portraits—a new approach in his persistent subversion of the painted subject. Marking a clear departure from the retrospective impulses of the Remix paintings of the past decade, these vibrant new works focus afresh on the affirmative act of painting.
Baselitz intentionally deprived himself of any overview of the works while in progress, rapidly painting each section of the canvas on the floor, then moving over to the next. Impressions of paint cans and footprints are traces of this process while each brushstroke records a decisive action. Titled with variations on the phrase Willem raucht nicht mehr (which translates literally as “Willem’s no longer smoking” and figuratively as “Willem’s no more” or “Farewell Willem”), these color-rich, instinctively painted self-portraits pay direct homage to the gestural figures of Willem de Kooning, whose primal paintings Woman I and Woman II Baselitz encountered as a student in 1958. Bursts of pure red, yellow, blue, and green echo de Kooning’s abstract paintings of the 1970s, five of which were presented alongside Baselitz’s early work in the pivotal 1981 exhibition A New Spirit in Painting at the Royal Academy in London.
Like de Kooning’s paintings of the period, Baselitz’s new works are characterized by a watercolor-like fluidity, achieved through the thinning of oil paints with turpentine and their swift, loose application. Riffs on his own likeness transcend representation, imparting sublime moments of intuition and sheer physicality. Consistent with his established formal vocabulary that works to disrupt the painted subject both visually and symbolically, he repeatedly portrays himself upside down, wearing a cap marked “ZERO” (the name of his paint supplier). Silhouettes are conveyed in the thin, intertwining lines of a reed brush, while explosive color fields reveal new painterly atmospheres, echoing the combative dimensions of de Kooning’s paintings. By charging his own figurative investigations with the raw exuberance of Abstract Expressionism, Baselitz reinvigorates the august tradition of self-portraiture with bright, impulsive energies.
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.
March 12–May 2, 2020
Extended through March 23, 2019
January 24–March 23, 2019
555 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