Born Hans-Georg Kern in 1938, Baselitz grew up in Saxony, an area that later became the German Democratic Republic (GDR). In 1956, after his second term studying painting at the Academy of Art in East Berlin, he was sent down for ‘political immaturity’. The following year, Baselitz moved to the Academy in West Berlin, completing his studies in 1962. It was during this period that he adopted the surname Baselitz, reflecting his place of birth, Deutschbaselitz.
In search of alternatives to the two dominant strands in contemporary art, namely the narrative art of Social Realism and abstract painting, Baselitz became interested in art considered to be outside of the main-stream. He was drawn to imagery rooted in Art Brut, and was also inspired by Existentialist art and literature, by Dada and Surrealism.
In 1969 Baselitz made the momentous decision to both create and display his works upside down, in order to change the viewer’s perception and their focus on the narrative content to the pure pictorial merits of the paintings. By attempting to overcome the representational, content-driven character of his earlier work, this also enabled Baselitz to emphasise the abstract qualities of the composition while retaining the psychological charge.
In 2005 Baselitz introduced what has been termed ‘Remix’ into his work, whereby he has returned to key phases of his own history and made new versions of his works. This has allowed him to revisit and excavate the past, pushing his own painterly vocabulary further, and resulting in the creation of works that are both fresh and liberated.
Georg Baselitz lives and works near Salzburg, Austria; at lake Ammersee, Germany; and in Imperia, Italy.
He has exhibited widely, including solo shows at Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Paris (2021); Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice (2019); Fondation Beyeler, Basel, Switzerland, and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington (2018); Städel Museum, Frankfurt (2016 – 17, travelling); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2014); Franz Marc Museum, Kochel am See, Germany (2014); Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris (2011 and 1996); Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister der Staatlichen Kunstsammlung Dresden, Germany (2009); Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany (2009); Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donna Regina, Naples (2008); Royal Academy of Arts, London (2007); Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark (2006); and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1995, travelling).
Significant group exhibitions include ‘Baselitz, Richter, Polke, Kiefer – The Early Years of the Old Masters’, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Germany (2019, travelling); the 56th, 52nd, 39th Venice Biennale (2015, 2007, 1980); ‘Germany Divided, Baselitz and His Generation from the Duerckheim Collection’, British Museum, London (2014); Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (1995, 1988, 1985); ‘The Romantic Spirit in German Art 1970 – 1990’, Royal Scottish Academy and the Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (1994, travelling); ‘Bilderstreit’, Museum Ludwig, Cologne.
24 May – 3 September 2022
White Cube Hong Kong
White Cube Hong Kong is pleased to announce ‘Sofabilder / Sofa Pictures’, an exhibition of recent paintings and drawings by German artist Georg Baselitz that give new and haunting form to his lifelong quest to unite abstraction and figuration in an inextricable dance. A nude female form based loosely on Baselitz’s wife Elke, whom he’s depicted throughout his career and now conjures from memory, is a central motif in each work.
Pablo Picasso’s 1942 painting L’Aubade (The Serenade) is among the inspirations for Baselitz’s images. Based on Titian’s 1538 Venus of Urbino, Picasso’s odalisque is a highly abstracted female figure reclining on a couch while being serenaded by a lute player. References to the Spanish artist appear in the playful titles of paintings, such as Woman and the Congo Mask (2021), and in the guitars that appear in a number of the untitled drawings. Additionally, Picasso was an unsparing observer of the aging process, which is an overarching theme in these and many of Baselitz’s recent works.MORE DETAILS