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Georg Baselitz ‘Sofa Pictures’ (2022)


Text by Lynette Roth
Edited by Honey Luard
Designed by (Studio) Jonathan Hares
Printed by Musumeci S.p.A, Italy
330 x 165 mm, hardback
61 pages, 40 illustrations
ISBN 978-1-910844-54-0
Published by White Cube

‘Disgust is replaced by a haunting certainty about the end of life.’ – Lynette Roth

A monograph on Georg Baselitz features the artist’s latest body of paintings and drawings, ‘Sofabilder / Sofa Pictures’, in which highly abstracted nudes appear to float in the horizontal plane. Set in schematic rooms containing a rectangular couch or bed, forms vibrate in a haze with their own painterly and graphic life. An essay by curator and art historian Lynette Roth explores the processes through which these skeletal forms emerged, contrasting them with the vibrant opacity of earlier works by the artist, while situating the sparing but stark iconography in a canon of painters from Otto Dix to Pablo Picasso.

The ‘transfer technique’ Baselitz has used for this group of paintings differs from his previous approaches to the medium. Rather than modelling forms directly, the artist has painted a white figure on a matrix, before imprinting it onto an unstretched canvas painted black. By removing his own hand in the final painting, Baselitz expresses a ‘desire for disembodiment’, quelling ‘the thickness of paint and with it the notions of an embodied “expressionist” subjectivity’, according to Roth.

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Lynette Roth oversees the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Harvard Art Museums generally, as well as the Busch-Reisinger Museum and its collection specifically. Her research focuses on art from German-speaking countries, with publications and/or exhibitions on the Weimar period (Cologne Progressives, Max Beckmann, August Sander), the immediate postwar period (Inventur-Art in Germany, 1943–55), and contemporary art (Rebecca Horn, Wolfgang Tillmans).