It is our great pleasure to restart our Work of the Week series with two exceptional works on paper by the renowned painter Georg Baselitz.
Born in 1938, Baselitz is one of the most famous German artists of the present day and his work has had a formative influence on the development of painting since 1960.
From the outset, Baselitz confronted German history and tragedy, trying to find a relevant artistic expression in a world in turmoil. He invented a now iconic cast of tragic antiheroes, from the grotesque figure of Die große Nacht im Eimer (The Big Night Down the Drain) (1962–63) to the broken soldiers of the Helden and Fracture paintings. As of 1969, Baselitz started inverting his images in a radical move that allowed him to unite figuration and abstraction and to confront the viewer with the raw essence of painting.
In 2005 Baselitz began his Remix series, in which he revisited the most prominent and provocative aspects of his own painted history, and then created new versions or interpretations of them with the experience of hindsight.
Our two Remix works from 2006 both reference the “Ralf Kopf” paintings from 1963, in which Baselitz depicts his friend and fellow painter A.R. Penck (born Ralf Winkler) in three different versions. The paintings from 1963, as well as the Remix works show a male head in profile with a distorted oversized ear. In the Remix drawings, the head is dislodged and free-floating. As with all works of the Remix series, these two Ralf drawings seem to be distilled to their essence and executed in a spontaneous and fast manner. The artist strips the works of any distractions and lays bare the quintessence of his idea.
Clearly, the Remix works represent a mature artist’s impulse to clarify, update and reinterpret, but their haunting, fleeting quality are also a meditation on presence, failure, and possibility.
The two drawings created on consecutive days in August of 2006 are a powerful display of Baselitz’s ability to draw inspiration from his past to create a body of work that resonates beyond its time.
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GEORG BASELITZ | UNTITLED 19.VIII.06 (RALF, REMIX) and UNTITLED, 18.VIII.06 (RALF, REMIX), 2006
(*1938 Deutschbaselitz, Germany)
Untitled, 19.VIII.06 (Ralf, Remix), 2006
watercolor and ink on paper
66 x 50,8 cm
signed and dated bottom G. Baselitz | 19. VIII 06
(*1938 Deutschbaselitz, Germany)
Untitled, 18.VIII.06 (Ralf, Remix), 2006
Indian ink and ink on paper
66 x 51 cm
signed and dated bottom: 18. VIII 06 G. Baselitz
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Georg Baselitz, born 1938 in Deutschbaselitz, Saxony as Hans-Georg Kern, is one of the most prominent German artists working today. In his pioneering oeuvre, encompassing painting, print making and sculpture, Baselitz rejected abstraction in favor of recognizable subject matter.
Baselitz attended the Hochschule für Bildende und Angewandte Kunst in East Berlin, from which he was expelled in 1957 for “sociopolitical immaturity.” He then moved to West Berlin, where he attended the Hochschule der Künste and completed his postgraduate studies in 1962. It was during this time that he changed his surname to Baselitz. His formative influence has been the German Expressionists’ use of “primitive” sources such as folk art and children’s art. Later he cited Willem de Kooning Philip Guston and Jckson Pollock as a lasting inspiration, ever since seeing their work as a student.
Today his work is included in some of the most renowned institutions, among them the Guggenheim Bilbao, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Berlinsche Galerie.