Georg Baselitz Biography

For over 60 years, Georg Baselitz has tested the boundaries of contemporary art and actively shaped a new identity for postwar German painting. Though primarily credited with reviving German Expressionist painting in the 1970s, he also works in print and sculpture. The most iconic of Baselitz's works are his upside-down paintings, which he began in 1969 and continues making to examine historical and personal themes to the present day.

Read More

Born in Nazi Germany in 1938 and raised under the Communist regime of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), Baselitz's penchant for controversy began early his career. In the 1950s, he was expelled from his East Berlin art school for 'socio-political immaturity'. After relocating to West Berlin to continue his studies, Baselitz once again invited public scandal during his solo exhibition of 1963 in which two of his paintings were seized by public prosecutors on the grounds of obscenity. One of these paintings, Die große Nacht im Eimer or The Big Night Down the Drain (1962–3) depicts a young boy who was not only holding a phallus but also sporting an Adolf Hitler hairdo. Claims of Nazi references returned in 1980, this time in a wooden sculpture Baselitz that was then showing at the Venice Biennale. Aside from political controversies, the artist has also come under fire for his condescending remarks regarding female artists. Baselitz is not an artist wary of controversies, however, commenting in his 2015 interview with Ocula Magazine that 'I'm not to blame for this attitude of the audience, because ultimately my job is very controversial.' For Baselitz, social backlash is a necessary part of an artist's life.

Perhaps it is his nonchalance towards controversy that has enabled him to constantly confront the boundaries of contemporary art. In 1969 Baselitz began creating his iconic 'upside-down' paintings, in which his subjects—figures, landscapes and symbols—are painted upside down. His upturned subjects distort the viewer's expectation of figurative compositions, instead calling for a closer examination of the surface of the paint. Marred by splatters and layers of paint, Baselitz's paintings emit an expressive and intense quality.

Baselitz's works are known to engage in dialogue with art history and amongst themselves. Of the artists who have impacted him, including Otto Dix, Egon Schiele and Frank Auerbach, the Dutch-American painter Willem de Kooning's influence reaches as far back as 1958 when Baselitz saw his works as a young student in West Berlin. In the exhibition Farewell Bill at Gagosian London (13 February–29 March 2014), the artist paid homage to de Kooning's gestural figure and explosive colours through his own monumental paintings that explored the fluidity of forms. Similarly, the paintings Baselitz created for Wir fahren aus (We're off)—an exhibition at White Cube Bermondsey, London (27 April–3 July 2016)—derive inspiration from Dix's The Artist's Parents (1924). Baselitz depicts himself and his wife Elke emaciated, nude and seated in similar positions as Dix's aged parents but upside down. The paintings were also a reinterpretation of his own work, Bedroom (1975), another painting that features the artist and his wife. Submerged in a foggy surface spray, the aged bodies of the couple allude to the notions of mortality, physicality and time. These themes are reflected throughout another series of drawings and sculptures also created for the exhibition. This reflection exemplifies Baselitz's 'remixing' process wherein a motif is reinterpreted repeatedly across different media.

An international reputation has not stalled Baselitz's conviction to challenge the mainstream and thus take risks. This ethos is reflected in his latest works; in 2015, Baselitz presented half-painted paintings that depict either the lower or upper half of a body. These paintings in turn recall Auerbach and Schiele's figural paintings. While similar to the artist's earlier paintings of fragmented bodies, the new paintings utilise a brighter colour palette and lighter brushstrokes. Disrupting the viewer's experience of painting in a way reminiscent of his upside-down paintings, this new body of works expresses Baselitz's concerns over the boundaries of composition and gestural figuration. That same year, the artist also shared his attitudes towards painting with Ocula Magazine: 'To fail is still a problem. There is still the feeling of being in infancy. There is little solidity that supports my work, quite the contrary, I feel I am still in a very fragile state.'

Baselitz has exhibited internationally in countries across Europe, the United States, China and South Korea. Major retrospectives of his work include Georg Baselitz: A Retrospective, Royal Academy of Arts, London (2007); Baselitz as sculptor, Musée d'art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2011–12); and Georg Baselitz, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1995). Baselitz represented Germany at the Venice Biennale in 1980 and participated in documenta 5 (1972), documenta 6 (1977) and documenta 7 (1982). The artist currently lives and works in Munich, Germany, and Imperia, Italy.

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2018

Georg Baselitz
featured artworks

View 18 More
Schlafende Hunde by Georg Baselitz contemporary artwork print
Georg Baselitz Schlafende Hunde, 1998 Line etching, dry point and aquatint
84.9 x 63.5 cm
Gagosian Request Price & Availability
Figur mit Flagge by Georg Baselitz contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, drawing
Georg Baselitz Figur mit Flagge, 1966 Watercolour and ink on paper
44.5 x 32.5 cm
Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art Request Price & Availability
Bauernzug by Georg Baselitz contemporary artwork print
Georg Baselitz Bauernzug, 2010 Drypoint and aquatint on Somerset paper
90 x 65.5 cm
White Cube Contact Gallery
Untitled by Georg Baselitz contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, drawing
Georg Baselitz Untitled, 2021 Ink on paper
71.2 x 85.8 x 3.5 cm
White Cube Request Price & Availability
Auf dem Stuhl by Georg Baselitz contemporary artwork print
Georg Baselitz Auf dem Stuhl, 2000 Etching (window mounted)
66.4 x 49.8 cm
Gagosian Contact Gallery
Dresdner Frau IV by Georg Baselitz contemporary artwork print
Georg Baselitz Dresdner Frau IV, 1989–1990 Woodcut
Galerie Thomas Contact Gallery
Untitled by Georg Baselitz contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, drawing
Georg Baselitz Untitled, 2021 Ink on paper
86.7 x 70.3 cm
White Cube Contact Gallery
Wo ist die Haselnuß? by Georg Baselitz contemporary artwork painting
Georg Baselitz Wo ist die Haselnuß?, 2017 Oil on canvas
300 x 207 cm
Almine Rech Request Price & Availability
View 18 More

Georg Baselitz
current & upcoming
exhibitions

View 13 More
View 13 More

Represented by these
Ocula Member Galleries

Gagosian contemporary art gallery in 980 Madison Avenue, New York, United States
Gagosian Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris +6
White Cube contemporary art gallery in Bermondsey, London, United Kingdom
White Cube Hong Kong, London, New York, Seoul, Paris +1
View 13 More

Georg Baselitz in
Ocula Magazine

Read 7 More
Read 7 More
Learn more about the market for works
by Georg Baselitz.
Enquire for a confidential discussion. Enquire Now
Simon Fisher, Ocula CEO
Ocula Advisor
Simon Fisher
Christoper Taylor, Ocula Advisor
Ocula Advisor
Christopher Taylor
Eva Fuchs, Ocula Advisor
Ocula Advisor
Eva Fuchs
Rory Mitchell, Ocula Advisor
Ocula Advisor
Rory Mitchell

Georg Baselitz in
Ocula Advisory

Ocula discover the best in contemporary art icon.
Follow Georg Baselitz
Stay ahead.
Receive updates on new artworks,
exhibitions and articles.
Your personal data is held in accordance with our privacy policy.
Follow
Do you have an Ocula account?
Ocula discover the best in contemporary art icon.
Get Access
Join Ocula to request price and availability of artworks, exhibition price lists and build a collection of favourite artists, galleries and artworks.
Do you have an Ocula account? Login
What best describes your interest in art?

Subscribe to our newsletter for upcoming exhibitions, available works, events and more.
By clicking Sign Up or Continue with Facebook or Google, you agree to Ocula's Terms & Conditions. Your personal data is held in accordance with our Privacy Policy.
Thank you for joining us. Just one more thing...
Soon you will receive an email asking you to complete registration. If you do not receive it then you can check and edit the email address you entered.
Close
Thank you for joining us.
You can now request price and availability of artworks, exhibition price lists and build a collection of favourite artists, galleries and artworks.
Close
Welcome back to Ocula
Enter your email address and password below to login.
Reset Password
Enter your email address to receive a password reset link.
Reset Link Sent
We have sent you an email containing a link to reset your password. Simply click the link and enter your new password to complete this process.
Login