Georg Baselitz - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction Hong Kong Sunday, November 28, 2021 | Phillips

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  • “I was born into a destroyed order, a destroyed landscape, a destroyed people, a destroyed society. And I didn't want to reestablish an order: I had seen enough of so-called order. I was forced to question everything, to be ‘naive’, to start again.” — Georg Baselitz 

    German artist Georg Baselitz’s career has pushed the limits of painting and sculpture throughout more than six decades of artistic experimentation. Made famous by his upside-down images that attempted to supersede the boundaries of representation and content, Baselitz has continually evolved his style throughout his career.


    Born Hans-Georg Kern in Nazi Germany in 1938 and raised under the Communist regime of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), Baselitz was expelled from his East Berlin art school for 'socio-political immaturity' after referencing Pablo Picasso in his work. He entered the Hochschule der Bildenden Künste, West Berlin, where he adopted the surname Baselitz, taken from the name of his birthplace. Seeking alternatives to Socialist Realism and Art Informel, he became interested in anamorphosis and in the art of the mentally ill, which favoured an intuitive form of expression over geometric abstraction.



    Georg Baselitz, Win. D., 1959
    Photo: Jochen Littkemann
    © 2021 Georg Baselitz 

    Baselitz developed a unique figurative vocabulary, using controversial images to express discontentment with Germany’s socialist politics. Five years after arriving in the west, his debut gallery show attracted the attention of the police and he was fined for displaying The Naked Man (1962), an image deemed pornographic. It became a key work for understanding Baselitz, because it anticipated many elements he would later expand upon in his oeuvre: the human body, ageing, isolation and the abject.

    “I have neither the sensitivity nor the education or philosophy of the Italian Mannerists. But I am a mannerist in the sense that I deform things. I am brutal, naive and Gothic.” — Georg Baselitz 

    Baselitz’s openness and willingness to question the role of artists in society became a defining theme of his work, and at the end of the 1960s and throughout the 1970s he began inverting images based on snapshots he had taken himself, playing with alternate notions of banality and history - for example eagles, a loaded cipher given Germany’s recent history, and intimate moments with his wife. He sought to find a third way between figurative and abstract painting, turning away from the cool, distant conceptual art movement that dominated the era.


    Now in his 80s, Baselitz paints monumental canvases with energy and deceptive lightness; his hard-earned artistic freedom manifesting itself in a more powerful expressionistic fervour that contrasts with the human frailty he portrayed repeatedly in the past. W.D. was unveiled at Baselitz’s milestone retrospective at the Fondation Beyeler in 2018, in a room of new works that the artist specifically requested for inclusion. Somewhere between phantasmagorical dream and turgid reality, W.D. brings the viewer full circle to Baselitz’s early paintings. It pays homage Baselitz’s poet friend Winfried Dierske, who was the subject of Baselitz’s first painting, an expressive portrait named Win. D.. Painted sixty years later, W.D. manifests the ‘third way’ between figuration and abstraction that Baselitz had sought for many decades in his career. The painterly virtuosity, muscular daubs of paint and beguiling interplay of colours in W.D. pay homage to Willem de Kooning, the Abstract Expressionist whose constant quest for a third way between figuration and abstraction (as well as his ability to ‘remain European’ after leaving Rotterdam for New York) was deeply admired by Baselitz.


    Baselitz will be the subject of a long-awaited retrospective in autumn 2021 at the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Baselitz’s 80th birthday in 2018 was celebrated with several retrospectives held in his honour, including at the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Fondation Beyeler and Kunstmuseum, Basel, as well as at the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C, which featured over 100 works from his six decades-long career. Previous major retrospectives of his work include Georg Baselitz: A Retrospective at the Royal Academy of Arts, London in 2007 and Georg Baselitz at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1995.



    Interview with the curator of Georg Baselitz at Fondation Beyeler, 2018


    • Provenance

      Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2018

    • Exhibited

      Basel, Fondation Beyeler, Georg Baselitz, 21 January – 29 April 2018, pp. 250, 267 (illustrated, p. 250)



signed, titled, inscribed and dated '1. VI 017 G Baselitz "W.D."' on the reverse
oil on canvas
139 x 88 cm. (54 3/4 x 34 3/4 in.)
Painted in 2017.

Full Cataloguing

HK$3,000,000 - 5,000,000 

Sold for HK$3,528,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2027

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction

Hong Kong Auction 29 November 2021