Supper in Dresden

Georg Baselitz1983

Kunsthaus Zürich

Kunsthaus Zürich
Zurich, Switzerland

German artist Georg Baselitz belongs to the generation of painters who returned to figurative painting in the late 1970s after decades of abstract painting dominating the art scene. He is particularly well known for turning his subjects on their head, thus giving his pictures an abstract touch by bringing painting as such to the fore, and de-emphasizing content. Our Supper in Dresden, over four metres in length, is an example of this technique, as it oscillates between figuration and robust chromatic harmonies of pink, blue and black. The viewer’s gaze falls first on the figure dominating the centre of the painting, its eyes and mouth open wide. It is flanked by other figures seated together at a long table, their heads turned toward the painting’s edge. Although the motif recalls the western tradition of the Last Supper, Supper in Dresden also alludes to an actual historical situation. Baselitz, who grew up near Dresden, here depicts the meeting of Expressionists in 1905 that gave rise to the artistic group known as Die Brücke. The nervous, agonized-looking figure on the left has been identified as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, while the dominant central figure is said to represent Karl Schmidt-Rotluff. The two close friends Otto Müller and Erich Heckel, on the right, share a single body. The motif provided Baselitz with an opportunity for artistic self-reflection. When he was saddled with the appelation (Neo)Expressionist in the late seventies, his response was to distance himself both in word and deed – or image. By means of purely artistic decisions – colour, composition and brushstroke – he seeks to free his topsy-turvy subjects from their one-dimensional significance.

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  • Title: Supper in Dresden
  • Creator: Georg Baselitz
  • Date: 1983
  • Technique: Oil on canvas
  • Physical Dimensions: w450 x h280 cm
  • Original Title: Nachtessen in Dresden
  • Provenance: © 2015 Georg Baselitz
  • Type: painting