Georg Baselitz - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, November 15, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Jamileh Weber Gallery, Zurich
    Private Collection

  • Exhibited

    New York, Pace Gallery, Georg Baselitz: Painting and Sculpture, December 3, 1993 – January 8, 1994
    Hamburg, Kunsthalle, Georg Baselitz: Skulpturen, February 18 – April 17, 1994
    Zurich, Galerie Jamileh Weber, Georg Baselitz, April 1 – May 13, 1995
    New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Georg Baselitz, May 26 – September 17, 1995; Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, October, 15, 1995 –January 7, 1996; Washington, D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, February 2 – May 5, 1996; Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Preußischer Kulturbesitz; May 25 – September 29, 1996
    Bonn, Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Georg Baselitz: Bilder, die den Kopf Verdrehen, April 2 – August 8, 2004
    Paris, Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Baselitz Sculpteur, September 30, 2011– January 29, 2012

  • Literature

    G. Baselitz, Georg Baselitz: Painting and Sculpture, New York, Pace Gallery, 1993, p. 17 (illustrated)
    G. Gercken and D. Hansen, Georg Baselitz: Skulpturen, Hamburg, Kunsthalle, 1994, p. 71 (illustrated)
    G. Baselitz, Georg Baselitz, Zurich, Galerie Jamileh Weber, 1995, np. (illustrated)
    D. Waldman, Georg Baselitz, New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1995, cat. No. 105, p. 112 (illustrated)
    S. Groß, Georg Baselitz, Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Ostfildern-Ruit, 1996, cat. No.95, p.86 (illustrated)
    S. Pagé, Georg Baselitz, Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 1996, p.47 (illustrated)
    G. Baselitz, Georg Baselitz : Grabados = Gravures = Prints, 1964-1990, Valencia, IVAM Centre Julio González, Valencia, 1991, p.60 (illustrated)
    S. Kleine, Georg Baselitz: Bilder, die den Kopf Verdrehen, Bonn, Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 2004, p. 110
    K. Kraus, GEORG BASELITZ: Skulpteren/Sculptures, Badan-Baden, Staatliche Kunsthalle, 2010, pp. 154 - 155 (illustrated)
    Baselitz Sculpteur, Paris, Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2011, p. 121 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    We make a sculpture or a painting against a sculpture or a painting that someone has made before us; always against something.

    (Georg Baselitz in Conversation with Jean –Louis Froment and Jean-Marc Poinsot, Georg Baselitz Sculptures, Baden-Baden, 2009, p. 67).

    In his five decades long career, Georg Baselitz has often attracted controversy for his work. Baselitz spent his childhood and formative years in East Germany, where early on he developed a taste for the provocative. The courage to exercise this unique expression has remained a definitive factor throughout Baselitz’s career. Though his paintings have occupied the main bulk of critical renown and attention, Baselitz’s acclaimed sculptures develop and complete the trajectory of his unique oeuvre. Through his sculptural work, his singular vision finds an outlet that is visceral and intense in its physicality. The nature of Baselitz’s artistic work flows from a variety of personal experiences. Superficial beauty, he has stated, was never his primary concern in his art, for executing it would be to ignore the forces that drive him to create in the first place.

    He gained prominence in the mid-1960s and he became an emblematic figure of artistic resistance and provocation, as German officials attempted to denounce his work as pornography. His work, entitled Die Grosse Nacht im Eimer (The Big Night Down the Drain), 1962-63, depicts a grotesque figure after the act of masturbation. Critics have speculated as to whether the figure is a boy or dwarf, but regardless, the picture was immediately seized by the public prosecutors, and the case against Baselitz began. He prevailed, though the prosecutors spent two futile years in their conviction attempts. Undeterred, Baselitz continued his unorthodox methods of both production and display, hanging many paintings upside down. While Baselitz would continue to explore similarly controversial themes, it was the overall power of his work that began to take center stage. He first experimented with the concept of the “inverted motif” in Der Wald Auf Dem Kopf/The Wolf On Its Head, 1969. Many have pointed to Baselitz’s inversions as remarkably powerful metaphors, theorizing that, among other things, they signify chaos both within the artist and more broadly in the world. During the present era he began to amass a series of motifs in his work, employing them both randomly and calculatedly in his paintings throughout the 1970s.

    Baselitz’s earliest works, including drawings dating from 1959, were inspired by Edvard Munch, a central figure in the European Expressionist movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As he developed his own style, his work shows far more variation and impressive subtlety that bars him from the simple title of Neo-expressionist. Baselitz found that he was originally attracted to Munch’s work because Munch was also inspired by the similar notion of what Baselitz calls “Folk Art”; a paradigm that particularly informs his sculptures. As did modernist pioneer Constantin Brancusi, Baselitz has drawn inspiration from the rough hewn beauty of the work of untrained artist. “I have found a number of sources for my sculptures in folk art. When I made the first ones I didn't know it. There was something inside me at the time, something that I unwittingly possessed…and as such folk art, for example the Christ figures we find erected everywhere in our country, in niches, on the roadsides, is of course never thought of as having anything to do with art. It is rather, as the term itself makes clear, something for the people, or with the people, or coming from the people, but definitely not High Art.” (E. Darragon, “The Possible Comes in its Own Time”, Georg Baselitz Sculptures, Baden-Baden, 2009, p. 27).

    Baselitz’s first works of wooden sculpture date back to 1980, where they premiered at the Venice Biennale. A break from much contemporary sculpture that utilized a reductive visual language, Baselitz’s enormous carved pieces of centenarian wood are full of figure and fury. His method of production emphasizes the visceral nature of his sculptures. He often carves the entirety of his pieces in a single day, devoting single-minded attention and physical labor to the realization of his pieces. Crafted to
    variously suggest ancient artifacts, Baselitz’s sculptures provide a human drama without any attempts at verisimilitude.

    Elke, 1993, is indicative of Baselitz’s emotive sculptural mastery. More than four feet in height, the sculpted head is a marvel of balance; the top-heavy bulb seems to be carved irregularly, highlighting Baselitz’s own talent for sculptural mathematics. The actual topography of the head is wonderfully creative in its dynamics: a towering hill of a forehead is bisected by central ridge, almost echoing Baselitz’s Cubist forbearers and giving the illusion of multiple vantage points. The ridge extends downwards toward the mouth, comprising the suggestion of either a compact nose or a nasal cavity. To the left and right of the ridge, deep ravines serve as enormous eye sockets, sloping upward again to make small indentations that function as the head’s ears. Below, the mouth itself sits on an uneven surface, with Baselitz’s juts and small recessions. Below the head itself, Baselitz has presented us with an enormously long neck. In total, the face presents us with an emotionally-charged presentation of the human condition, both elegant and rough, monumental and approachable.

    Prominent among Baselitz’s body of artistic works are images of the artist’s wife, Elke Kretzschmar Baselitz. Married to Baselitz for more than thirty years, Elke has been a part of the artist’s imagery almost from the beginning. In the present sculpture, Baselitz allows the natural grain of the wood to represent her skin tone. In addition, the inherent variations due to the his chiseling process creates a variegated color. Burnt sienna and garnet, the paint upon the surface of Baselitz’s sculpture, is used sparingly yet effectively, and ties Elke, 1993, both in theme and palate to the rest of the artist’s works. The expression that Baselitz paints upon her face seems to be the most compelling aspect of this sculpture: her wide eyes are applied in thick swaths of acrylic, her eyebrows sitting far above in an expression of surprise. Baselitz either lends his subject a myriad of possible expressions: angst, excitement, or utter confusion, simultaneously, an emotional cubism.

    One particular byproduct of the viewer’s experience with the present lot, and one that Baselitz finds compelling in all of his work, is the concept of nostalgia. For him, nostalgia is not a simple tribute to earlier periods of artistic innovation or musings on a time past, but a veritable method of regeneration: “I have nothing to do but to meditate about what I am and what I am doing. I am attempting to give life once again to everything I have made in my past. That is a nostalgic, highly sentimental business. I am undertaking it quite consciously, with all the intelligence available to me.” (“Georg Baselitz in Conversation with Robert Fleck”, Georg Baselitz, New York, 2012, p. 15)

    In the carved wood of Elke, 1993, we see Baselitz’s artistic hand in both the etching and woodwork that he has pursued for decades. In the expression of her face, we see the influence and echoes of the early Expressionists. In the end, Elke, 1993, is a combination of the wide-ranging variations of Baselitz’s artistic contribution. It is a record of the here-and-now as well as of the past and forgotten. Baselitz refuses to forget, however, and draws from both himself and eternal existence.



synthetic resin on lime wood
49 3/4 x 21 1/8 x 20 1/2 in. (126.4 x 53.7 x 52.1 cm)
Dated “ 4.III. 4. III 93” on the back of the lime wood element.

$1,500,000 - 2,500,000 

Sold for $1,650,500

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

15 November 2012
New York