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Georg Baselitz: Works from 1968 to 2012 - Essl Museum (Sammlung Essl)
The exhibition “ Georg Baselitz – Works from 1968 to 2012” opens the exhibition year at the Essl Museum on 17 January 2013 with a bang. On the occasion of the 75th birthday of Georg Baselitz , the Essl collector couple are dedicating an...  Read More

Presenting Artists

Georg Baselitz(German, 1938)

Area Map and Address

An der Donau Au 1, Klosterneuburg, Austria

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About the Event

The exhibition “Georg Baselitz – Works from 1968 to 2012” opens the exhibition year at the Essl Museum on 17 January 2013 with a bang. On the occasion of the 75th birthday of Georg Baselitz, the Essl collector couple are dedicating an extensive exhibition to their long-standing friend and great German artist. Forty-four works by Baselitz from four decades will be shown. The exhibition is being arranged by Prof. Karlheinz Essl himself in close cooperation with the artist.

Georg Baselitz is one of the essential artists of the post-war generation in Germany who consistently developed figurative painting further. In recent art history his work is considered to be singular and distinctive.

Typical of Baselitz is the reversal of his image motifs, which he began with the work Der Wald auf dem Kopf [The Wood Upside Down] in 1969. He attacks the conventions of perception and knowing, for him a liberating act. As early as his student days Baselitz consistently followed a different path from those around him. From the start his painting was based on the conscious separation of artistic motif and reality. The figurative image motif was introduced, but simultaneously alienated and deformed. In this renunciation of the then dominant abstract tendencies in painting Baselitz sees an opportunity to express sensitivities more concretely. 

Georg Baselitz creates his own reference system from which he develops his pictorial models and painting methods. From early on he was interested in the Dadaism of a Kurt Schwitter, the surrealistic tendencies of Antonin Artaud and the literature of existentialism (Michaux, Beckett, Ionesco, Genet). He is fascinated by the unspoilt, raw, anti-intellectual and taboo-free art of the mentally ill.

Baselitz constantly changed his painting methods throughout his career. He repeatedly analysed the subject as the starting point for the painting, segemented it, turned it upside down, or years later took up old motifs again and put them in a different stylistic context. In the 1980s in particular, the painting itself is intensified to the point of rawness, but he also experimented with the white margin as a passepartout for the painting, he left footprints or empty spaces from his paint-pots on the pictures, which he painted on the floor, or more recently attained a very light, almost watercolour style of painting. 

All his artistic phases since the late 1960s are represented with important works in the Essl Collection. The spectrum ranges from a major work, the Fingermalerei-Akt [Finger- Painting Nude] from 1972, through the “Russian Paintings” series between 1998 und 2001 – such as Lenin auf der Tribüne (Gerasimov) – to the remix phase of painting repetition (from 2005). The remix paintings relate to earlier works and vary original image motifs with current painting techniques and methods, whether through enlargement of the format, reduction of the colour palette, leaving out details or shifting of the focal point of the painting.

The exhibition is supplemented by the three-metre-high wooden sculpture Meine neue Mütze [My New Cap] (2003). The artist made sculptures like this from the 1980s, and they accompany his painting as much as his intensive engagement with drawing and graphic art.

The work of Georg Baselitz is represented in incomparable depth in the collection.