Painter and sculptor Hans-Georg Kern (German, b.1938) renamed himself Georg Baselitz in 1961, after his hometown Deutschbaselitz, East Germany. He is renowned as a German enfant terrible for the nonconformist expression of his paintings, which he developed amidst the East-West divide of a traumatized Post-War Germany. Baselitz grew up in East Germany, exposed solely to communist imagery, and trained in the Socialist Realist style at the School of Visual Art in Berlin-Weissensee. He was accused of “socio-political immaturity” by the school, and subsequently fled to West Berlin in 1957, where he studied the Contemporary movements Art Informel, Tachism, Abstract Expressionism, and Conceptual Art. Rebelling against what he saw as a prescribed abstraction of West German avant-garde painters, Baselitz produced a personal and expressive series of figures in dirt and flesh colors, strongly influenced by Art Brut and the art of the mentally ill. Fascinated by the brutal existentialism of authors like Antonin Artaud and Charles Baudelaire, Baselitz painted painfully distorted and abused figures and body parts in his works, infusing them with unsettling tones of sexual obsession.

In his first solo exhibition in Berlin in 1963, he displayed provocative works such as The Big Night Down the Drain, which portrayed a naked man holding an exaggeratedly large penis. The painting was confiscated by local police, earning the artist further notoriety. Constantly looking for new motifs and subject matter, he created a repertoire of expressive landscapes, animals, still-lifes, hero figures, nudes, and portraits. Over the years Baselitz has increasingly embraced abstraction in his work; he famously began to paint and display his subjects upside down in 1969. In the 1970s, Baselitz joined a group of Neo-Expressionist German artists, occasionally identified as the “New Fauves,” and focused on evocative subject representation and vibrant color in his works. Baselitz began creating sculpture in the 1980s, which kept with his reputation for provocative work. His monumental wooden sculpture Model for a Sculpture featured a figure making a Nazi salute, which incited controversy during its display at the 1980 Venice Biennale. In recent years, he has revisited some of his older subjects, including heroes, in his Remix series. His work can be seen as a major mediator between expressive painting traditions and the contemporary revival of the medium.

Baselitz lives and works in Inning am Ammersee.

Timeline

1938
Born Hans-Georg Bruno Kern in Deutschbaselitz
1957–1963
Hochschule fur bildende und angewandte Kunst, East Berlin, Germany
1957–1963
Hochschule fur bildende Kunste, West Berlin, Germany
1978
Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Kunste, Karlsruhe, Germany
1986
Recipient of Kaiserring Goslar, international art prize
1987
Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
1983–1988
Hochschule der Kunste, Berlin, Germany
1992
Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
1999
Honorary Professorship, Royal Academy of Arts, London, England
1999
Rhenus Kunstpreis
2001
Julio Gonzalez Prize, Valencia, Spain
2002
Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
1992–2003
Hochschule der Kunste, Berlin, Germany
2003
Niedersachsischer Staatspreis
2004
Praemium Imperiale Award, Tokyo, Japan
2004
Honorary Professorship, Accademia di Belle Arti, Florence, Italy
2006
Honorary Citizen of the city of Imperia, Italy
Lives and works in Inning am Ammersee, Germany

Exhibitions

2014
Georg Baselitz. Tierstücke – Nicht von dieser Welt, Kochel am See, Germany (solo)
Picasso, Magritte, Warhol. une exposition aux visages multiples, La Vieille Charité, Marseille, France (solo)
George Baselitz. Farawell Will, Gagosian Gallery, London, England (solo)
Germany Divided: Baselitz and his generation, British Museum, London, England (solo)
2013
Untitled, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England (solo)
Romantiker kaput, Galerie Stihl, Waiblingen, Germany (solo)
Waldfuß: Graphik aus der Sammlung der Sparkasse Hildesheim, Kunstmuseum Heidenheim, Germany (solo)
Works from 1968 to 2012, ESSL Museum, Vienna, Austria (solo)
Munch by Others, Haugar Art Museum, Tønsberg, Norway
From Gesture to Language, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, China
Stories of History, Guggenheim, Bilbao, Spain
Residenzschloss Dresden, Dresden, Germany (solo)
2012
Villa Schöningen, Potsdam, Germany
Hieroglyphs, Linda Pace Foundation, San Antonio, USA
Zeitgespenster, Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen, Germany
BILDERBEDARF. The Civic and the Arts, Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany
Stadt-Land-Fluss, Galerie Henze &Keterer, Wichtrach/Bern, Switzerland
Das Naturmotiv: Zeichnungen Und Gemälde Von 1958 Bis Heute, Altana Kulturstiftung, Sinclair Haus, Bad Homburg; Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Oldenburg, Germany (solo)
Die Berliner Jahre – Bilder aus der Sammlung Baselitz, Villa Schoningen, Potsdam, Germany (solo)
Gagosian Gallery, New York, USA (solo)
Das Negativ – New Works, Galerie Thaddeus Ropac, Salzburg, Austria
The Biennale of the Art of Painting: Man In Focus, Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle, Belgium
Romantiker Kaputt, Stiftung Moritzburg, Halle, Germany
2011
BASELITZ SCULPTEUR, Musée d`Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France
Sculpteur aussi, ARC, Paris, France
Georg Baselitz Graphikretrospektive, Musée Cantini, Marseille, France
Folk Ding Zero, Villa Borghese, Uccelliera, Rome, Italy
Georg Baselitz – 25 Jahre Meisterwerke, Isabelle du Moulin und Niels Borch Jensen Galerie, Berlin, Germany
Between Eagles and Pioneers, White Cube, London, England
Georg Baselitz – The Early Sixties, Michael Werner Gallery, New York, USA
Re-Mixed, GL STRAND, Copenhagen, Denmark
2010
Monumental Sculptures, Paintings and Aquarelles, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, France (solo)
Georg Baselitz. Remix, Helsinki Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland (solo)
Georg Baselitz. Recent Paintings, Pinacoteca de Estado de São Paulo, Brazil
Baselitz. Eine Retrospektive, Museum Frieder Burda, Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany
2009
Paintings and Sculptures 1960-2008, Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria
Dr. Freud und andere Musik, Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin, Germany (solo)
Georg Baselitz Dresdner Frauen, Galerie Neue Meister und Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister der Staatlichen Kunstsammlung Dresden, Dresden, Germany (solo)
Georg Baselitz, 1960 – 2008, Galerie Rudolfinum, Prag/ Prague, Czech Republic (solo)
Mrs Lenin and the Nightingale, White Cube, London, England (solo)
Top, Kunsthalle Würth, Schwäbisch Hall, Germany
2008
Georg Baselitz - Retrospective, Madre, Neapel / Naples, Italy (solo)
Georg Baselitz. Druckgraphiken 1964 bis 1983, Pinakothek der Moderne, München/ Munich, Germany (solo)
Georg Baselitz, Kunsthalle Würth, Schwäbisch Hall, Germany (solo)
La Grande Notte in Bianco, Gagosian Gallery, Rome, Italy (solo)
Georg Baselitz. Druckgraphik von 1964 bis 1983, Kupferstich - Kabinett, Dresden, Germany (solo)
Georg Baselitz, Remix, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, France (solo)
Georg Baselitz: 23. Januar 1938, Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin, Germany (solo)
2007
Georg Baselitz: Die Russenbilder, Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany (solo)
Georg Baselitz: A Retrospektive, Royal Academy of Arts, London, England (solo)
Museo Civico di Belle Arti, Lugano, Italy (solo)
The Bridge Ghost’s Supper, Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin, Germany (solo)
Russenbilder, Musée d’ Art Moderne, St. Étienne, France (solo)
Remix, Albertina, Vienna, Austria (solo)
2006
Retrospektive, Louisiana Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark (solo)
Baselitz, Eine einzige Leidenschaft – die Malerei, Fondation de l’Hermitage, Lausanne, Switzerland (solo)
Remix, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany (solo)
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark
Georg Baselitz: Works on Paper, Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne, Germany
Georg Baselitz, Jörg Immendorff, Markus Lüpertz, A.R. Penck, Shanghai Zendai Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai, China
Implosion, Anton Kern Gallery, New York, USA
2005
Benjamin Katz und Georg Baselitz, Attori a rovescio, Imperia, Italy
Georg Baselitz. Andere Ansichten, Galerie Terminus, Munich, Germany (solo)
Georg Baselitz. Aquarelle, Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich, Germany (solo)
2004
Georg Baselitz. Neue Arbeiten, Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne, Germany
Upside down, boy you turn me. Baselitz in der Hess Collection, Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland
Berlin-Moskau / Moskau-Berlin 1950-2000, Tretjakow Galerie, Moscow, Russia; Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin, Germany
Weltsichten, Meisterwerke der Zeichnung, Graphik und Photographie, Kupferstichkabinett, Dresden, Germany
Georg Baselitz: Malelade, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe, Germany (solo)
Georg Baselitz - Bilder, die den Kopf verdrehen, Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn, Germany (solo)
Upside down, boy you turn me. Baselitz in der Hess Collection, Kunstmuseum, Bern, Switzerland (solo)
Georg Baselitz. Neue Arbeiten, Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne, Germany (solo)
Georg Baselitz – Monumentale Aquarelle, Albertina, Vienna; Frac de Picardie, Amiens, France (solo)
2003
Georg Baselitz. Recent Paintings, Michael Werner Gallery, New York, USA
Georg Baselitz. The monumental Watercolours, Albertina, Vienna, Austria
Georg Baselitz: New Paintings, Gagosian Gallery, London, England (solo)
2001–2002
Thirty-Five Drawings, Richard Gray Gallery, New York, USA
2001
Sculpture versus Painting, IVAM, Valencia, Spain
Reise in die Niederlande 1972-1999, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
1999
Monumentalen Druckgraphik 1977-1999, Musée Rath, Geneva, Switzerland
Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico
1998
Portraits of Elke, Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth, USA
Georg Baselitz: Portraits of Elke, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, USA (solo)
1997
Georg Baselitz: Recent Paintings, Pace Wildenstein Gallery, New York, USA (solo)
Man in the Middle – Menschenbilder, Kunsthalle, Tübingen, Germany
Expressiv!, Fondation Beyeler, Basel, Switzerland
Retrospektive, Musée d´Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France (solo)
Landscape: The Pastoral to the Urban, Bard College, New York, USA
1996
Georg Baselitz: New Works, Galerie Springer, Berlin, Germany (solo)
Retrospektive, Guggenheim Museum, New York; County Museum of Arts, Los Angeles, USA; Hirshhorn Museum, Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.; Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany (solo)
Editions from Maximilian Verlag, Sabine Knust, Munich, Germany
1995
Retrospektive, Kunsthaus, Zürich, Switzerland; Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf, Germany (solo)
Georg Baselitz, Guggenheim-Museum, New York, USA
1991
Georg Baselitz. Grabados 1964-1990, IVAM Centre Julio Gonzales, Valencia, Spain
1990
Graphikretrospektive, Bibliothéque Nationale, Paris, France (solo)
Baselitz: The Hero Paintings, Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne, Germany (solo)
1989
Bilderstreit, Messehallen, Cologne, Germany
1988
Georg Baselitz - Dipinti 1965-1987, Sala d'Arme di Palazzo Veccio, Florence, Italy
1987
Georg Baselitz - das plastische Werk, Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover, Germany
1986
Georg Baselitz - Vier Wände, Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Winterthur, Switzerland
1985
Georg Baselitz - Vier Wände - Skulpturen, Gemälde, Zeichnungen, Holzschnitte, Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany
Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, England (solo)
German Art in the 20th Century, Royal Academy, London, England
1984
La Grande Parade, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Mary Boone/Michael Werner Gallery, New York, USA
1983
Expressions: New Art from Germany, St Louis Art Museum, St Louis, USA
Retrospektive, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Kunsthalle, Basel, Switzerland (solo)
Xavier Fourcade, New York, USA (solo)
1982
Documenta 7, Kassel, Germany
Zeitgeist, Martin Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany
1981
A New Spirit in Painting, Royal Academy of Arts, London, England
Westkunst, Messehallen, Cologne, Germany
Straßenbild, Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne, Germany
Retrospektive, Kunsthalle, Bern, Switzerland; Staatsgalerie moderner Kunst, Munich; Kunsthalle, Cologne, Germany (solo)
1980
Modell für eine Skulptur, Biennale, Venice, Italy
1979
Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands; Kunsthalle Köln, Cologne, Germany
1976
Galerieverein München und Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst, Munich, Germany
Kupferstichkabinett, Kunstmuseum, Basel, Switzerland (solo)
1975
XIII. Biennale, São Paulo, Brazil
1974
Galerie Biedermann, Munich, Germany
1972
Documenta 5, Kassel, Germany
1970
Warum das Bild ‚Die großen Freunde‘ ein gutes Bild ist“, Rudolf Springer, Berlin, Germany (solo)
Franz Dahlem im Galeriehaus, Lindenstrasse, Cologne, Germany (solo)
1966
Friedrich & Dahlem, Munich, Germany (solo)
Die große Feude, Galerie Springer, Berlin, Germany
1965
Galerie Friedrich & Dahlem, Munich, Germany
Galerie Werner & Katz, Berlin, Germany (solo)
1964
Galerie Michael Werner, Berlin, Germany
1963
Exhibition in Galerie Werner & Katz in Berlin. Two of the exhibited paintings 'Die große Nacht im Eimer' and 'Der nackte Mann' are confiscated by the Department of Public Prosecution; the process ends in 1965 with the restitution of the paintings. Letter and Manifesto: 'Lieber Herr W.!'
1962
Pandämonium, Berlin, Germany
1961
Pandämonium, Manifest und Ausstellung mit Eugen Schönbeck, Berlin-Charlottenburg, Germany

Literature

2002
Art in America, July, Baselitz at M. Werner, Ed. Leffingwell
1992
Art Magazine, 66, no. 7, pp. 93-94, Germany in Review, Bettina Mahler
1986
Art Magazine, 60, no. 10, pp. 35-37, Georg Baselitz’s Pastorale, Remo Guidieri
1982
Artforum, 20, no. 7, pp. 69-70, Georg Baselitz, Lisa Liebmann
1966
Censorship, 2, no. 1, pp. 35-41, Baselitz Case, Martin G. Butting