Exhibition brings together five series realised between 2020 and 2021 by Georg Baselitz

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Saturday, May 25, 2024

Exhibition brings together five series realised between 2020 and 2021 by Georg Baselitz
Georg Baselitz, La boussole indique le nord, behind the scenes photo, Thaddaeus Ropac Paris Pantin, 2023.

PARIS.- La boussole indique le nord is an exhibition of recent works by internationally renowned German artist Georg Baselitz. Filling the Thaddaeus Ropac gallery’s Paris Pantin space, the exhibition brings together five series realised between 2020 and 2021, in celebration of the artist’s 85th birthday. The works on view span Tulips with pared-back compositions and contrasting colours, three series of portraits with vivid palettes, and a series of more melancholy portraits on dark backgrounds. The works on canvas are accompanied by a group of ink drawings. Characterised by an unprecedented integration of fabric and by a transfer method that marks a significant recent development in Baselitz’s technique, the works create, both conceptually and materially, a distinctive universe where the logic of collage coalesces with painting.

Baselitz’s wife Elke has been a constant subject of the artist’s work throughout his career, ever since he first painted her in 1969. Showing her from the waist up, her head resting on her hand, the group of new portraits in the exhibition pays homage to Baselitz’s very first depiction of her, which is today part of the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Those from 2021 also feature a new element in Baselitz’s visual vocabulary: a disjointed pair of nylon stockings affixed to the upside-down portrait of Elke, like fragile, disembodied legs. Existing on a different plane to the oil-painted figures, they give the canvases a third dimension, expanding them into the realm of collage to evoke the work of German Dadaist Hannah Höch, who employed cut-out legs to construct mismatched bodies in her pioneering photocollages. Interviewed in the NZZ am Sonntag in 2022, Baselitz said: ‘Some two years ago I remembered Hannah Höch and her stocking pictures. I had never dared to make collages before. I found the technique wonderful. But the question was: how could I use this technique in my painting? Then I had a dream about the stockings.’

With a touch of playfulness, the stockings recall the feet and legs that have been a recurring theme since the artist’s very early works. For Baselitz, they are the symbol of a tactile connection with the earth: the same connection he fosters by working with his canvases on the floor. Interviewed by Martin Schwander in 2017, Baselitz explained that, as a ‘north-of-the-Alps man’, his contact does not reach heavenward: ‘The Mediterranean peoples [...] told us about angels in Heaven. I don’t believe in that. So, when I’m painting on the floor, the contact downward – feeling for what is under it – is really important.’ As the artist added in 2021, ‘people living north of the Alps are in search of their own story’, grounded in their own earthy mythology. The exhibition, whose title translates as The Compass Points North, might be viewed in light of this reflection. 

As if in defiance of the ambiguous sensuality of the garment, the empty stockings on view seem to confront us with absence. This sense of evanescence is mirrored in the sparsity of the painted surfaces among the works in the exhibition, which contrast with the dense impasto for which Baselitz has long been known. Across the works on view, the artist uses a monotype printing technique he has developed in recent years. He paints the composition onto a piece of unstretched canvas before pressing it against a second canvas against it while wet, to create a mirror-image impression. Here, compared to previous works, Baselitz’s ‘figures dissolve more and more’, remarks art critic Gerhard Mack. ‘The colour becomes transparent [and the] figures are almost floating, porous’.

Baselitz takes his monotype technique a step further in his intensely chromatic portraits with stockings, transferring the figure of Elke onto a piece of fabric which he then affixes to the canvas. Allowing the creases of the fabric to mirror the delicate folds of skin, this unprecedented technique brings to mind the imprint left by Christ’s body on the Shroud of Turin. Impregnated with her form, the printed fabric implies an imagined contact with Elke’s body, turning painting into, as art historian Philippe Dagen writes in the catalogue accompanying the exhibition, ‘not an image [...] but the material manifestation of a presence’. The disarming corporeal intimacy this creates is echoed in the delicate depictions of Elke found in the group of ink drawings on view, in which slight outlines wind across the exposed paper like veins laid bare. Across the exhibition, Baselitz associates this bodily vitality, expressed through jubilant colour and gestural energy, with the fragility of his representation of a beloved figure in all her vulnerability, to create portraits in which vigour is tempered with tenderness.

The exhibition is dominated by the vibrant palette of the portraits in effervescent colours on white grounds, as well as those painted on powder blue. The latter evoke the blue backgrounds of German Renaissance painter Lucas Cranach the Elder’s portraits, as well as the cyan environments characteristic of Pablo Picasso’s Surrealist nudes from the 1920s and 30s, bearing witness to Baselitz’s constant engagement with the history of painting. Such bursts of works in intense colour are always matched in the artist’s practice by periods in which a more subdued palette dominates. The series of monumental canvases on impenetrable backgrounds of black brushstrokes bears witness to this duality. 

On these darker works, Baselitz transfers the same monotype figure twice in a composition that references Picasso’s L’Aubade. In this melancholy 1942 painting, Picasso took a sombre approach to the traditional female nude, which Baselitz alludes to in his own take on the theme. As Philippe Dagen writes, in each of Baselitz’s works, the first impression of the figure depletes the paint for the second impression, so that it is ‘stripped of a part of its substance, the second painting being like the ghost of the first’. With this monotype technique, Dagen continues, the artist brings the paint ‘to a point close to exhaustion and disappearance,’ a visual effect that embodies the sensitivity of his approach to painting Elke.

Since the early 2000s, Baselitz has been returning to the key phases and motifs of his own past oeuvre in a series of paintings known as Remix. The Tulips on view in the exhibition are a remix of the flowers he painted at the very beginning of the 1980s. In this group of works, the subject leans in from the left of the canvas to interact with the emptier right side. This creates a taut relationship between subject and background and a compositional equilibrium that, in the words of Diane Waldman, curator of Baselitz’s 1995 retrospective at The Guggenheim in New York, ‘recalls the balanced asymmetry that Piet Mondrian achieved in his Compositions of the 1920s and 1930s’. Baselitz titles these paintings, whose floral subjects are themselves inextricably linked with the Dutch Old Master tradition, ‘Greetings from Holland’, ‘If Piet had stayed in the country’ or ‘Piet has gone to NY’. In doing so, he evokes Mondrian’s journey from the Netherlands to the USA, and corresponding transition from figuration to abstraction. It is this space between the two traditional poles of painting that Baselitz has navigated throughout his career, confronting them at times, at others circumventing them to forge his own singular path.

According to museum curator Bernard Blistène, Baselitz ‘works from the very conventions of painting, and yet [is] perhaps the painter who has most destroyed these conventions.’ This has been the case since he first inverted a canvas, a compositional play he has now been employing for more than 50 years. In the new works, through previously untried experiments with collage and novel mark-making techniques, it is the conventions of painting’s materiality that Baselitz tests, bringing his innovation up to the threshold of his 85th birthday. Yet the layers of allusion and material, and the destabilisation of representation and narrative that they imply, never alienate the painter from his work. Instead, they serve as an invitation for the viewer to bypass the ‘sterile questions’ of representation within painting. As the artist says: ‘they make it possible for me to realise what I have wanted all my life.’

La boussole indique le nord will be accompanied by an exhibition catalogue with a text by Philippe Dagen.

Today's News

January 22, 2023

Can art ever be innocent?

Exhibition explores the cross-pollination between artists in the centers of Italian and American art in the '50s & '60s

Manuel Borja-Villel leaves his charge as the director of Museo Reina Sofía

Van Dyck painting, found in a farm shed and now estimated at $2-3m

Groninger Museum unveils a world first with exhibition The Art of Hipgnosis

Exhibition brings together five series realised between 2020 and 2021 by Georg Baselitz

Hauser & Wirth St. Moritz presents an exhibition of works by the celebrated German conceptual artist Isa Genzken

One of the very earliest images of an interracial family relationship in American art purchased by Philip Mould

Exhibition features never-before-exhibited drawings by Jennifer Bartlett

Dick Polich, artists' ally in the creation of sculptures, dies at 90

Two newcomers joining LARTA The London Antique Rug & Textile Art Fair

Maureen Paley opens exhibition by Behrang Karimi across the two London spaces

Private collection of BBC Antiques Roadshow's expert Henry Sandon heads to auction

NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale presents a retrospective exhibition of work by Malcolm Morley

Alexander Gray Associates, New York opens Luis Camnitzer exhibition

Betty Lee Sung, pioneering scholar of Chinese in America, dies at 98

Review: 'Not About Me' remembers decades shrouded by AIDS

Review: Carnegie Hall makes an intimate space more intimate

Winning a BAFTA? Just one of Joanna Scanlan's career surprises.

Meta's oversight board calls for overhaul of nude photo standards

The unforgettable meets the unimaginable at the Winter Show

Cristin Tierney Gallery exhibits a historic installation work by Victor Burgin

Jenny Holzer receives Whitechapel Gallery's 2023 Art Icon Award

OSL Contemporary opens an exhibition of works by A K Dolven

Bitcoin Casinos: The Future of Online Gambling

How Fantasy Name Generators Can Help You Create The Perfect Character Name

How to Apply for Government Tenders?

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc

ignaciovillarreal.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful