Painter, sculptor, printmaker and draughtsman, Georg Baselitz is one of Germany’s most celebrated living artists, with a distinguished career spanning over fifty years.
Born Hans-Georg Kern in 1938, he grew up in Saxony, an area that later became East Germany. Whilst studying painting at the Academy of Art in East Berlin (1956) he was sent down after one year for political immaturity. He then applied at the Academy in West Berlin and moved there in 1958, completing his studies in 1962. During this period he adopted the surname Baselitz, reflecting his place of birth Deutschbaselitz.
Baselitz’s first solo exhibition in 1963 at Galerie Werner & Katz, Berlin, caused a public scandal and several paintings were confiscated by the German authorities claiming that they were publicly indecent. A scholarschip in Florence in 1965, where he became interested in Italian Mannerist prints led to a series of paintings depicting monumental male figures. These paintings are often termed as the “Hero”(“Helden”) series. The long figure as a prophet or saint also alludes to home coming soldies stumbling, dazed through battle-scarred post-war Germany.
The “Facture” paintings of the late 1960s were devided into segments so that the imagery could be reorganised pictorially. In 1969, he decided to create and work upside down in order to re-focus the viewer on the pure pictorial merits of the painting. By attempting to overcome the representational, content-driven character of his earlier work, this also enabbled him to emphasise the qualities of the composition independent from the motif.
By the late 1970s, he was making monumental sculptures of figures and heads with rudimentary and deliberately irregular forms. Having spent most of the 1970s apparently working outside the mainsteam, dominated at the time by Conceptual Art practice, by the 1980s he had established his international reputation (cemented by exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale in 1980 and “A New Spirit in Painting”, in 1981). In 2005 Baselitz introduced the “Remix” in his work, in which he has returned to key phases of his own art history (including “The Big Night Down the Drain” and “Great Friends”) and made new versions of his work. These paintings have allowed Baselitz to revisit and excavate the past, pushing his own painterly vocabulary to create works that are fresh and liberated.
Georg Baselitz lives and works in Germany. He has exhibited widely, including solo shows at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome (2017), Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2016), Städel Museum Frankfurt (2016), Haus der Kunst, Munich and Franz Marc Museum, Kochel am See (2014), Victoria & Albert Museum, London (2013), Musée Cantini, Marseille (2011) Galerie Neue Meister und Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister der Staatlichen Kunstsammlung Dresden (2009), Kunsthalle Baden-Baden (2009), Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donna Regina, Naples (2008), the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2007), Louisiana Museum, Copenhagen (2006), Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1997) and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1995). Group shows include, Royal Academy, London (2011), Kunstmuseum Basel (2008), Venice Biennial (2007), the Stedelijk, Amsterdam (2001) and Documenta 7 (1982).
Exhibitions and Distinctions (Selection)
Frieder Burda Museum, Baden-Baden
Museum der Moderne, Salzburg
Kunsthalle Würth, Schwäbisch-Hall
Royal Academy of Arts, London
Retrospective at Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek. Remix works at the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich
Praemium Imperiale Award, Tokyo. Retrospective at Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic Germany, Bonn. Laureate of the Accademia di Belle Arti, Florence
Lower-Saxon State Award. Large exhibition at the Albertina,Vienna
Honorary professorship at the Academy of Fine Arts, Krakow
Honorary professorship at Royal Academy of Arts in London Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
Large Retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Los Angeles County Museum of Arts, Hirschhorn Museum and Sculptures Garden, Washington and at Nationalgalerie, Berlin
Retrospective at the Kunsthaus Zürich and Kunsthalle Düsseldorf
Awarded Kaiserring (Emperor’s Ring) by the city of Goslar. Art Prize of the Norddeutsche Landesbank, Hannover
(also from 1992-2003) professorship at the Berlin Academy of Arts
Shows his first sculptures at the German Pavillon of the Venice Biennale
Professorship at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe
Retrospectives at the Kunsthalle Bern, the Staatsgalerie of Modern Art in Munich and the Kunsthalle Köln
First museum exhibition in the Kupferstichkabinett, Museum of Arts, Basel
First motif reversal with Der Wald auf dem Kopf (upside-down forest)
First exhibition in Werner & Katz gallery, Berlin and confiscation of his work Die große Nacht im Eimer (the big night down the drain) by the public prosecutor’s office, on grounds of sexual lewdness
Baselitz Remix, ed. by Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, 2006
Georg Baselitz—Paintings 1962-2001, ed. by Detlev Gretenkort, Milan, 2002
Georg Baselitz, Manifeste und Texte zur Kunst 1966—2000, Bern 2001
Georg Baselitz, ed. by Galerie Beyeler, Basel, 1992
Georg Baselitz, Andreas Frantzke, München, 1988
Baselitz—Peintre-Graveur, Werkverzeichnis der Druckgraphik, Fred Jahn, Johannes Gachnang,Vol. I: 1963—1974,Vol. 2: 1974—1982, Basel, Berlin 1983, 1987