Georg Baselitz

Georg Baselitz
Verschiedene Zeichen, 1965
Weg vom Fenster, 1982
Verschiedene Zeichen, 1965
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Georg Baselitz
Verschiedene Zeichen, 1965

Various Signs
Oil on canvas, 162.5 x 130 cm
Photo: Peter Schibli, Basel

One of the most striking features of art after 1960 is the return of figural representation. Georg Baselitz’s Verschiedene Zeichen (Various signs) needs the human figure because the work seeks to show limitation as opposed to the unbounded colour spaces of abstraction. A young man – a mark on his forehead, one hand bleeding in a trap, the other holding the palette, obstructed by a grotesque fence but with his whole upper body nevertheless towering up unimpeded above the horizon – is looking up and into the distance. Firmly mired in history, he nevertheless wishes to make art and rid himself of the constraints on his creativity.

Weg vom Fenster, 1982
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Georg Baselitz
Weg vom Fenster, 1982

Out of the Game
Oil on canvas, 250 x 250 cm
Photo: Peter Schibli, Basel

In 1969 Georg Baselitz took a step that remains provocative even today. He began painting his figural motifs upside down, simply in order to free himself from the conventions traditionally governing the representation of the human form, and to prove that it is no less convincing to depict the human figure as part of the history of painting. His Weg vom Fenster (Out of the game) is a powerful image: influenced by Munch, it reveals to us on the right the full expressive potential of the human figure and, on the left, the swirling potency of pure colour, which accompanies the inverted figure like a shadow.

Georg Baselitz
Georg Baselitz
Georg Baselitz

b. (as Georg Kern) in 1938, Deutschbaselitz

The German painter, printmaker and sculptor confronted the art world in the early 1960s with large-format, expressively coloured, figurative paintings. He was inspired by the painting style of Lovis Corinth and the Expressionists. He found his artistic hallmark in 1969, when he broke with all convention and turned his landscapes, portraits and nudes upside down. The effect was to negate pictorial space and bring the materiality of paint and the dynamic energy of the painterly gesture to the fore. Materiality is also the overriding artistic concern in the roughly hewn and occasionally painted wooden sculptures he has produced since the late 1970s. His most recent works (called the “Russian Paintings”) offer an experimental, ironic perspective upon iconic works of Socialist Realism from the period of his youth.

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