Georg Baselitz

Georg Baselitz was born in Saxony in 1938 as Hans-Georg Kern. He grew up in a school environment, with the family living on the school premises where his father taught. As a child, Georg Baseltiz spent a lot of time in the school library, marvelling at the drawing books and developing a passion for art. By the age of 15, he was already painting portraits, religious scenes, still lifes and landscapes. In 1956, he was admitted to the East Berlin School of Fine and Applied Arts, but only stayed there for a few months before being expelled for socio-political misconduct. He then joined the West Berlin School of Fine Arts in Charlottenburg. During this period, he discovered the theories of Wassily Kandinsky and Kasimir Malevitch, the American painting of Pollock and De Kooning, but also the art of Chaïm Soutine and Marcel Duchamp. All these confrontations push him to pursue his artistic development alone, at home. He then left the Fine Arts studio.

Baselitz’s first solo exhibition at the Werner & Katz Gallery in Berlin in 1963 caused an outcry. Two of his works are seized by the courts and are the subject of a lawsuit for breach of public order. Images of war, odd men with shredded clothes, severed hands and feet, and masturbation are at the heart of his work and are deliberately depicted in a coarse manner. In 1965, he was awarded a scholarship that enabled him to move to Florence for six months to perfect his training. During this stay, he created his “animal pieces”. On his return, he concentrates more on large formats. His production is then characterized by a fragmented painting, glued and assembled in disorder.

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Through his artistic production, Baselitz deconstructs matter in order to create a new form of life. The artist diverts forms and volumes, he breaks up his compositions by the way he arranges colours and materials, exploring all the possibilities of their textures. He renews German Expressionism and finds in this current the key to his interpretation of German identity. Associated with direct influences from primitivism, this neo-expressionism can be interpreted as the direct representation of a people torn apart by war. Gradually, his work is recognized, despite its eccentricity. The Kunsthalle in Mannheim exhibits his paintings and drawings in 1972, he participates in the documenta 5 in Kassel, the Heiner Friedrich gallery markets his silkscreen prints and in 1975 he exhibits at the Sao Paulo Biennale. In 1980 he participates in the Venice Biennale and is represented in the exhibition "A New Spirit in Painting" at the Royal Academy in London. He was then recognized as one of the leading figures of German painting and German Neo-Expressionism. In 1995, he exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. More recently, in 2007, the Royal Academy of London devoted a major retrospective to him, and in 2013-2014, the Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris will exhibit his sculpted work. In 2018, on the occasion of his 80th birthday, the Fondation Beyeler will present a vast exhibition retracing all the periods and aspects of his work, fully illustrating the full scope of this artist who is undeniably one of the most eccentric of the 20th century.
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