announced Georg Baselitzs monumental Das letzte Selbstbildnis I (The last self-portrait I) as the leading highlight of the 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale in London on 20 October 2020. This large-scale canvas comes directly from the renowned Collection of Marcel Brient, Paris, where it has been for 20 years. Painted in 1982, Das letzte Selbstbildnis I is a seminal work that is emblematic of an iconic period of Baselitzs oeuvre as well as paying tribute to the late self-portraits of Edvard Munch. It will be on view at Phillips new location in Southampton on Long Island from 17 to 21 September, before travelling to Paris from 29 September to 5 October, and finally to London for the Frieze Week viewing before the auction.
Cheyenne Westphal, Global Chairwoman, said: Painted in 1982 at a time when Baselitz was at the full height of his painterly power, The last self-portrait, I a painting of extraordinary impact in fiery reds, yellows and blues which pays homage to the work of Edvard Munch. Last publicly seen over twenty years ago and coming from the legendary collection of Marcel Brient, Paris, it is an honour to present this true masterpiece at auction at Phillips.
The last self-portrait I belongs to an eponymous body of works that pay homage to Edvard Munchs late self-portraits, with examples held in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. At a height of two and a half metres, it is representative of Baselitzs signature upside-down format, evincing the savage beauty that is so characteristic of his work, with the head of the subject twisted to the side and a slash of light paint running down the naked body.
After representing Germany at the 1980 Venice Biennale, Baselitz participated in a series of influential exhibitions across the globe that gave way to his propelled international stardom. These included A New Spirit in Painting in 1981 at the Royal Academy, London, Documenta 7 in 1982, and the landmark exhibition Zetgeist at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin that same year. The last self-portrait I is a seminal masterwork from this crucial period, and has not been seen publicly since 1996. Coming from the Collection of Marcel Brient, The last self-portrait, I shares the same intensity as one of Martin Kippenbergers last self-portraits, Ohne Titel (aus der Serie Das Floß der Medusa), 1996, which was formerly part of the same collection and which Phillips sold in June 2018.
The last self-portrait I comes to the market at a time when there is great international attention on Baselitz, with the artists latest work being showcased in two London exhibitions, Georg Baselitz: Darkness Goldness at White Cube Masons Yard, and Georg Baselitz: I Was Born into a Destroyed Order at Michael Werner Gallery.