GEORG BASELITZ – Picture and drawing

5 November 2016  -  14 January 2017


The Michael Werner Kunsthandel is delighted to announce the opening of the exhibition „Georg Baselitz – Picture and drawing“ which presents to a Cologne audience a superb and unique selection of examples from the artist's work from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. Two important works of museum quality, the diptych „Nude and Bottle“ (1977) and the quadriptych „Pear Tree 1“ (1978), form the centrepiece of the show. Large format works on paper along with 22 charcoal drawings from the late 1980s clearly demonstrate that this kind of medium did not simply represent preparatory sketches for paintings but that Baselitz employed it to explore radical new forms of composition.

The artist is generally known for his inversion of motifs, a method that provoked a lot of publicity but was widely misunderstood. „If an artist wants to continue painting without fudging or making up motifs, inversion is an obvious choice […] for me a picture is an autonomous object, only reliant on itself […].“ (Georg Baselitz in conversation with Walter Grasskamp, 1984). In order to isolate his pictures from associations and interpretations, he turns our normal and habitual way of seeing things on it’s head. He speaks in this context of the need for disharmony and disruption as a creative principle in his work.

„Pear Tree 1“ (1978) is a good example of this. A pear tree can be portrayed in many different ways, especially as, in German, it almost inevitably evokes the famous ballad by Theodor Fontane. Baselitz‘ focus on the process of painting is emphasised by the serial format of the quadriptych in which the organic forms of the tree are transformed into the rhythmic structure of the brush strokes. A similar process take place with the diptych „Nude and Bottle“ (1977). Nudes and still lifes are classic motifs in the history of art, but by combining them in a diptych the artist irritates our expectations. The unnatural posture of the figure that runs counter to all the conventions of genre turns the human body into an object which relates on a formalistic level with the bottle on the right.

Georg Baselitz has been one of the foremost contributors to the development of German post-war art for over 50 years. His productive and questioning approach puts into doubt the fruitless distinction between figurative and abstract art. His series of works entitled „Heroes“ and „New Types“ are currently on show in a major exhibition in the Frankfurter Städel Museum.