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Georg Baselitz ‘Darkness Goldness’ (2020)


Text by Jonathan Jones, Darian Leader and the artist in conversation with Toby Kamps
Edited by Honey Luard
Designed by (Studio) Jonathan Hares
325 x 260 mm, hardback, cloth with gold foil artwork
120 pages, 60 colour illustrations
ISBN 978-1-910844-44-1
Published by White Cube, September 2020
Limited edition of 1,000 copies

Published to coincide with Georg Baselitz’s solo exhibition, ‘Darkness Goldness’ at White Cube Mason’s Yard, London in 2020, this lavishly illustrated book brings together a group of paintings, reliefs and works on paper made during 2019. The publication provides an in-depth study of a single motif, distilled to its simplest form in three distinct mediums.

Since the beginning of his career, Baselitz has worked with the expressive potential of this body part, beginning with his iconic ‘Heroes’ series from the mid-1960s when ‘monstrous’ hands were often the dominant feature of his subjects, as with Otto Dix’s painting of his parents, which has so influenced Baselitz over the years.

In this powerful series of paintings, the hand is isolated from the rest of the body, painted in gold and emerging out of a dark background, hanging open and limp. Joining a long tradition of artists using the hand as a potent means to express emotion, here Baselitz seems to work against his own facility, by using a monoprint technique to transfer the image from one canvas to another, and at the same time reveal his outstanding draftsmanship in the accompanying ink on paper drawings. The reliefs, by contrast, attest to the physical effort of modelling – the artist’s own hand evident in every surface contour.

With texts by the longstanding art critic of The Guardian Jonathan Jones, who brings to light a wealth of art historical precedents from Dürer to Kirschner, and by the British Jungian psychoanalyst Darian Leader, who delves into the many associations and readings of the role that the hand plays in human development from childhood through to adult life. Finally, a conversation between Georg Baselitz and Toby Kamps, Director, External Projects, White Cube, reveals the artist’s own thought processes.

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Jonathan Jones is a British art critic, writer and broadcaster, who has written for The Guardian since 1999. Toby Kamps is Director, External Projects, White Cube. Darian Leader is a British psychoanalyst and author.