Mrs Lenin and the Nightingale, a work by Georg Baselitz

Guggenheim Bilbao

Guggenheim Bilbao

Mrs Lenin and the NightingaleGuggenheim Bilbao

At the end of the 1960s, Georg Baselitz began painting his motifs upside down, reorienting the subject in order to reexamine it in a way that subverted traditional compositional rules.

Jake and Dinos get caught up by history is part of Georg Baselitz’s suite of sixteen paintings Mrs. Lenin and the Nightingale (2008). The series is based on the repetition of the same compositional structure: two upside-down male figures sitting next to each other, their penises exposed, and their hands resting solemnly on their thighs.

The compositional motif originates from an art-historical precedent: Otto Dix’s renowned portrait The Artist’s Parents II (1924), which Baselitz reinterpreted in his own way: in this case, he replaced the figures in the original composition with two dictators, Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin, who, in the first half of the twentieth century, caused the loss of millions of human lives.

Vladimir Lenin is portrayed as “Mrs. Lenin,” wearing a skirt and high-heeled shoes as a reference to his love of disguise.

Stalin, known for his singing voice and interest in poetry, is "the nightingale," referencing a poem by German writer Johannes R. Becher.

Georg Baselitz
Jake and Dinos get caught up by history (Jake und Dinos holt die Geschichte ein), from Mrs Lenin and the Nightingale, 2008
Oil on canvas
300 x 250 cm
Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa

Credits: Story

An exhibition of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

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