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Installation View

Georg Baselitz2014

la Biennale di Venezia - Biennale Arte 2015

la Biennale di Venezia - Biennale Arte 2015

Georg Baselitz
Georg Baselitz (born Hans-Georg Kern) born in Deutschbaselitz, Germany, in 1938.
He lives and works in Basel, Switzerland, at the Ammersee (Lake Ammer, in Upper Bavaria, Germany), and Imperia, Italy.

Works (from left to right):
Amung, Lennung, alles zusammen
Avignon dada strip
Der Papst ist in Rom
Es fallt kein Schatten
Oh Schande

Expulsion from the Academy of Art in East Berlin in 1957 impelled Georg Baselitz to complete his studies at the Academy of Art in West Berlin. The decision proved formative. Straddling the two worlds of East and West Germany, Baselitz forged a singular “third path” that devised an alternative to both socialist realist art and nonobjective painting. In part by recuperating aspects of German Expressionist art denounced by the Nazis, Baselitz restored the human form to a central position in painting while maintaining a deep skepticism of humanist discourse in the wake of the Holocaust.
Baselitz’s earliest paintings are deeply indebted to Italian Mannerism. His elongated, leviathan figures with small heads amid battered landscapes were countermonuments to the tragedy of World War II . Living in a divided Germany, Baselitz quickly absorbed the lessons of cubism and his figures and landscapes underwent increasing fragmentation that reached an apotheosis in his complete inversion of the human form. Baselitz has since persisted in creating and displaying his works upside down, thus drawing attention to their nonobjective properties. Formal experiments ensued, with Baselitz using powerful brushwork and opaque pigments to build up his surfaces and to probe the contingencies of the figure–ground relationship.
In 2005, Baselitz inaugurated a series of rapidly executed paintings that reprised key figures from his earlier works. Following on his practice of fracture and inversion, reinvention moved Baselitz nearer to complete autonomy of the image. His surfaces thinned and became more transparent, complicating further still the relationship between figure and ground. In several paintings, runlets of paint rake across the surface obscuring the subjects beneath. More recent exploits invoke Willem de Kooning’s near dissolution of the human figure, while ventures in black-on-black grope at the boundaries of the visible and the almost invisible. These strains come together in Baselitz’s current series of eight self-portraits that stretch the lengths of his canvases, each nearly five meters high. The overwhelming size of these colossals nevertheless endows them with a certain frailty; these upended bodies—with their gouged eyes and throbbing red members—threaten to recede into an inky jet background. As self-portraits they are staggering examples of an artist who continues to press the limits of painting, even at his own peril.

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  • Title: Installation View
  • Creator: Georg Baselitz
  • Date Created: 2014
  • Rights: Courtesy the artist; Gagosian Gallery; Galerie Thaddeus Ropac; White Cube, Photo by Alessandra Chemollo; Courtesy: la Biennale di Venezia, with the support of Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen – ifa
  • Medium: oil on canvas

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