Georg Baselitz is known as one of the most famous German artists of the 20th and 21st century. As a painter and sculptor he made predominantly neo-expressive paintings. During his time as a student of Hann Trier he learned and developed a sense and unique style of painting. Amongst his close friends and fellow artists are: A. R. Penck, Jörg Immendorff, Albert Oehlen und Sigmar Polke.
- Date of Birth: 23 January 1938
- Birthplace: Deutschbaselitz, Saxony
- Nationality: German/Austrian
- Studies: Berlin University of Arts (UdK)
- Teacher: Hann Trier
- Similar Artists: Jörg Immendorff, Markus Lüpertz, Sigmar Polke, A.R. Penck, Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter
- Epoch: postmodernism
- Style: neo-expressionism
With his individual upside-down paintings, Georg Baselitz achieved as a German artist a unique selling point. He added the painting in a discreteness, in which the motive is just secondary. His art includes predominantly art-historical and biographical references. The paintings are full of disharmonism and blaze of color.
Georg Baselitz was born on January 23, 1938 as Hans-Georg Kern in Deutschbaselitz in Germany. He was the son of a primary school teacher and his whole family lived in a schoolhouse. It was in its in-house library, when Baselitz was confronted for the first time with art. In Deutschbaselitz he attended the primary school. Afterwards, his family moved to the district town of Kamenz, where he attended the local elementary school. Through several influences in his environment, he started to develop an interest for painting. By a landscapist, Baselitz was inspired to practice art. Several portrait drawings and sketches by famous people such as Beethoven, Stalin and Wagner marked the beginning of his artistic career.
At the Age of 22, Baselitz applied at the Kunstakademie in Dresden, however without success. Affected by the rejection, he tried at times to take a different path. He got accepted at the forestry school of Tharandt, but he never started his apprenticeship there. In order to still pursue an artistic career, he applied to the Hochschule für bildende und angewandte Kunst in Eastberlin, Weißensee, where he got accepted and began his studies in 1956. His professors were Herbert Behrens-Hangeler and Walter Womacka. Baselitz studied until the second semester and got expelled for “socio-political immaturity”, because he did not align with the socialistic paradigms of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). During this time he met his friends Peter Graf and Ralf Winkler (A. R. Penck). After taking a year off, Baselitz was accepted at the Universität der Künste (UdK) Charlottenburg and moved from East- to Westberlin. At that time he primarily did narrative drawings. As the student of the German artist Hann Trier, Baselitz implemented expressive motives. In 1961 he changed his name Hans-Georg Kern into his alias: Georg Baselitz. He chose this name as a tribute to his hometown Deutschbaselitz. In the same year he wrote together with his artist friend Eugen Schönebeck the first “pandemonic scripture”. Shortly after, the second scripture was written. During this time, he also met his wife Johanna Elke Kretschmar. In 1962 they married and their first son Daniel Blau was born, later in 1966 their second son Anton Kern followed.
After having successfully completed his studies in 1962, Baselitz worked as a freelance artist. Due to the reversal in motive in his works, Baselitz quickly became the German guide to neo-expressionism. In 1977 Baselitz taught as a professor at the Staatliche Akademie der Künste in Karlsruhe and at the Universität der bildenden Künste in Berlin. From 2013 on, Baselitz lived in Bavaria at the Ammerlake. In 2015 he and his wife Elke moved to Salzburg where he obtained in due to his extraordinary achievements the Austrian citizenship.
motives and themes
Very early on, Baselitz’artistic work was considered to be different. He and his art did neither conform with artistic norms in East Germany nor West Germany. In his early years, his works were marked primarily by theories of Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malewitsch, Ernst Nay and Antonin Artaud. Through his teacher Hann Trier at the Universität der bildenden Künste in Berlin-Charlottenburg he learned skills about action painting. He painted his works with rough brushwork, flashy colors and on big formats.
In 1963 Baselitz had his first solo exhibition at Galerie Werner & Katz. Two of the pictures Die große Nacht im Eimer and Der nackte Mann, were however confiscated because of bawdily and erotic motives. Only two years later, the process was stopped and Baselitz’ works returned to him. In the same year, he went on a scholarship to the Villa Romana in Florence. In Italy he studied Mannerism. After his return to Berlin he painted the Heroesgroup (Heldenbilder). The painting Die großen Freunde was included in this group. In the late 1960s, Baselitz began to paint green pictures. In these so-called “fracture paintings” he divided motives into stripes and replaced them in a new composition together. They were the forerunners of the inverted paintings.
These upside-down works are probably the most popular paintings by Georg Baselitz. Firstly appearing in the early 1970s, it was for his inverted art full of individuality that made Baselitz rise to international fame and popularity. His first upside-down painting was Der Wald auf dem Kopf. Due to the reversal in motive he alienated the object in the picture. Thereby the viewer had to deal only with the painting and not with the depicted object. Partially obscene, erotic and provocative motives should encourage the viewer to think in an abstract way. Baselitz painted the pictures actually reversed. He put the emphasis on flashy paintings and was internationally known by the inverse images. By using the upside-down motive it was difficult to interpret the content and this was particularly the reason for his high recognition factor. In 1972 Baselitz and his works were part of the documenta 5 in Kassel. In the same year he produced many pieces with an eagle motive (Adler). The eagle was shown as an upside-down motive. The viewer could see the eagle as a falling object, not as a flying bird. As symbol of power and domination, portraying the eagle as falling, caught a lot of attention. One of these eagles adorned the office of former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.
In the early 1980s, Baselitz joined the artists’ group „New Fauves“. Artists such as Albert Oehlen, Anselm Kiefer und Sigmar Polke were part of this group. Intuitive, large-sized and amorphous paintings were characteristic of the neo-expressive works. Additionally, bright colors and an amorphous structure supported the name and work of the “New Fauves”.
Artists like Joseph Beuys, Pablo Picasso und Alberto Giacometti amongst others were Beselitz’ role models.
In addition to his paintings Baselitz was also engaged in the sculptural arts. In 1980 he presented Modell für eine Skulptur in the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. This sculpture was considered very provoking at the Biennale because it showed a figure performing Hitler’s salute. His sculptures often depicted motives of his paintings. Using chainsaws and axes he formed his sculptural works.
From 1998 to 2002 Baselitz produced pictures that showed more familiar images of the GDR. However, he portrayed pictures in a free style and showed themes about the Russian-German relationship. These so-called Russians images (Russenbilder) included more than 60 works. He alienated the pictures from his childhood memories about the socialistic realism of the Russians and gave them a new meaning.
Baselitz was always interested to represent new possibilities in art and he accomplished with his “Remix”-phase a remake of his earlier works. He revised these between 2005 and 2007. Baselitz illustrated the newly remixed works partly more extreme, colorful and detailed. Through Remix, he considered himself his own competitor trying to find out how he had evolved as an artist.
PRIVATION OF ART FROM GERMAN MUSEUMS
Due to legal changes in the law for the protection of culture in Germany, Baselitz cancelled his permanent loans to German museums, because he no longer wanted to support them. Some of the concerned museums are the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, the Albertinum in Dresden and the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz. The new legislation for the protection of culture should inter alia have tightened import and export licenses.
- Queensland – Gallery of Modern Art
- Baden-Baden – Museum Frieder Burda
- Berlin – Neuer Berliner Kunstverein
- Berlin – Berlinische Galerie
- Dortmund – Museum Ostwall
- Düsseldorf – Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen
- Erlangen – Kunstpalais
- Essen – Museum Folkwang
- Frankfurt a. M. – Städel Museum
- Cologne – Museum Ludwig
- Stuttgart – Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
- Strassburg – Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain
- Skopje – Museum of Contemporary Art
- 21 June 2014 – 12 June 2016, Georg Baselitz. Straßenbild - De Pont Museum, Tilburg
- 1 October 2015 – 14 November 2015, Georg Baselitz. Sigmunds Höhle - Contemporary Fine Arts Gallery, Berlin
- 29 October 2015 – 5 December 2015, Georg Baselitz - White Cube, London
- 11 September 2015 – 10 January 2016, Von Hockney bis Holbein. Die Sammlung Würth in Berlin – Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin
- 2015 Werke aus der Sammlung - Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden
- 2014 Damals, dazwischen und heute - Haus der Kunst, Munich
- 2013 Georg Baselitz. Hintergrundgeschichten - Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Galerie Neue Meister, Dresden
- 2012 Baselitz - Immendorff - Schönebeck - Kunstverein Villa Wesel, Iserlohn
- 2011 Baselitz as Sculptor - Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville, Paris
- 2009 Mr. Lenin and the Nightingale - White Cube, London
- 2009 Gemälde und Skulpturen - Museum der Moderne, Salzburg
- 2009 50 Jahre Malerei - Frieder Burda Museum, Baden-Baden
- 2009 30 Jahre Skulptur - Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden
- 2007 Die Russenbilder - Deichtorhallen, Hamburg
- 2007 Baselitz - Royal Academy of Arts, London
- 2006 Baselitz. Painter - Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek
- 2006 BASELITZ Remix - Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich
- 2005 Lim Kok Wing University of Creative Technology, Malaysia
- 2004 Upside down, boy you turn me. Baselitz in der Hess Collection - Kunstmuseum Bern
- 2004 Georg Baselitz: Malelade - Kunsthalle Karlsruhe
- 2004 Friedrich Christian Flick Collection - Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin
- 2003 Die monumentalen Aquarelle - Albertina, Vienna
- 2003 Obsessive Malerei - ZKM Museum für Neue Kunst, Karlsruhe
- 2002 Rough Cuts - National Gallery of Autralia, Canberra
- 2000 Im Walde von Blainville - Sammlung Essl, Kunst der Gegenwart, Klosterneuburg/Vienna
- 1999 Das große Pathos - Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg
- 1999 Reise in die Niederlande - Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
- 1997 Retrospektive - Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Monterrey
- 1997 Deutschlandbilder. Kunst aus einem geteilten Land - Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin
- 1996 Georg Baselitz. Retrospektive - Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin
- 1995 Georg Baselitz. Retrospektive - Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
- 1994 Baselitz. Painter - Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg
- 1993 Grafik och Skulpture - Malmö Konsthall, Malmö
- 1993 Lousiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebeak
- 1992 Retrospektive - Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Munich
- 1990 45 - Michael Werner Gallery New York
- 1990 Georg Baselitz - Städtische Kunsthalle, Dusseldorf
- 1982 documenta 7, Kassel
- 1989 Bilder aus Berliner Privatbesitz - Altes Museum, Berlin
- 1988 Paintings - Akira Ikeda Gallery, Tokyo
- 1988 La Sedia di Paolo - Sala d’Arme di Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
- 1987 Georg Baselitz - Galleria Christian Stein, Milan
- 1987 Skulpturen und Zeichnungen 1979-1987 - Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hanover
- 1987 Berlinart - Museum of Modern Art, New York
- 1986 Vier Wände - Kunstmuseum Winterthur
- 1985 Paintings 1963-1985 - Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London
- 1984 Georg Baselitz - Kunstmuseum Basel
- 1984 Neue Pinakothek, Munich
- 1983 Holzplastiken - Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne
- 1983 Sculpturen - Musée d’Art Contemporain, Bordeaux
- 1982 Sonnabend Gallery, New York
- 1982 Georg Baselitz - Galerie Nächst St. Stephan, Vienna
- 1982 Waddington Galleries, London
- 1981 Brooke Alexander, New York
- 1980 Deutscher Pavillon Biennale di Venezia, Venice (with Anselm Kiefer)
- 1980 Model for a Sculpture mit Max Beckmann - The Whitechapel Art Gallery, London
- 1979 Bilder 1977-78 - Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven
- 1972 documenta 5, Kassel
- 1977 Galerie Heike Curtze, Vienna
- 1976 Malerei, Handzeichnung, Druckgrafik - Kunsthalle, Bern
- 1976 Galerieverein und Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst, Munich
- 1975 Bienal de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo
- 1973 Ein Neuer Typ - Galerie Neuendorf, Hamburg
- 1972 Gemälde und Zeichnungen - Städtische Kunsthalle, Mannheim
- 1970 Franz Dahlem präsentiert Georg Baselitz - Galeriehaus, Cologne
- 1968 Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden
- 1966 Die großen Freunde - Galerie Springer, Berlin
- 1964 Galerie Michael Werner, Berlin
- 1963 Galerie Werner und Katz, Berlin
- 1961 Baselitz/Schönebeck. Bilder und Zeichnungen - West-Berlin
- 2012 Légion d’Honneur, France
- 2009 Cologne Fine Art-Preis, Cologne
- 2008 B.Z.-Kulturpreis, Berliner Bär, Berlin
- 2005 Austrian decoration of Honor for Science and Art, Vienna
- 2004 Praemium Imperiale Award, Tokyo
- 2006 Niedersächsischer Staatspreis
- 2002 Commandeur de l’Orde des Arts et des Lettres, Paris
- 1999 Rhenus-Kunstpreis, Mönchengladbach
- 1986 Kaiserring der Stadt Goslar
- 1986 Kunstpreis der Norddeutschen Landesbank, Hannover
- 1965 Villa Romana-Preis, Florence
- Georg Baselitz, Germany 2012, ’105.
- Baselitz, Hein-Peter Schwerfel, Bonn 2004, ’52.
- Georg Baselitz trifft Georg Kern – Eine Spurensuche, Marion Rasche, Germany 1999, ’60.
- Die Welt steht Kopf. Georg Baselitz, Marion Cohn-Vossen, Hanover 1996, ’44.
- Ich. Georg Baselitz, Heinz-Peter Schwerfel, Germany 1987, ’43.
- Georg Baselitz. Gemälde und Skulpturen 1960-2008, exhibition catalogue, Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Cologne 2009.
- Georg Baselitz – Spaziergang ohne Stock, exhibition catalogue, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac Paris, 2005.
- Georg Baselitz. Bilder, die den Kopf verdrehen. Eine Retrospektive, exhibition catalogue, Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland Bonn, Leipzig 2004.
- Georg Baselitz. Paintings 1962-2001, published by Detlev Gretenkort, Milan 2002.
- Georg Baselitz. Manifeste und Texte zur Kunst 1966-2000, Bern 2001.
- Georg Baselitz, exhibition catalogue, Nationalgalerie Berlin, Berlin 1996.
- Georg Baselitz. Eine fotografische Studie, Edward Quinn, Bern 1993.
- Georg Baselitz, Franz Dahlem, Cologne 1990.
- Georg Baselitz, Andreas Franzke, Munich 1988.
- Pandämonium - Manifest und Plakat, Georg Baselitz/Eugen
- Schönebeck, Berlin 1961.
- Georg Baselitz/Eric Darragon: Darstellen, was ich selber bin, Frankfurt am Main 2001.
- Georg Baselitz: Rede über Deutschland, Kammerspiele, Munich 1992.
- Georg Baselitz: Lieber Herr W, Berlin 1963.