Georg Baselitz - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Tuesday, October 14, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Lucio Amelio, Naples
    Collection of L.C. Heppener, Holland
    London, Christie's, Contemporary Art Sale, 4 December 1996, lot 53
    Acquired from the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Naples, Lucio Amelio, La Commedia dell'Arte: Georg Baselitz, February, 1992
    Humblebaek, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Baselitz Værker fra 1990-93, May - August, 1993
    New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, George Baselitz, 26 May - 17 September 1995, then travelled to Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (15 October 1995 - 7 January 1996), Washington D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institute (15 February - 5 May 1996), Berlin, Staatliche Museum zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie (May - July, 1996)

  • Literature

    Baselitz Værker fra 1990-93, exh. cat., Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humblebaek, 1993, p. 22 (illustrated)
    George Baselitz, exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1995, p. 202, no. 160 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    The early 1960s marked the emergence of Georg Baselitz as a pioneer of German Neo-Expressionist painting. He was introduced to contemporary art after attending a touring exhibition of American painting at the age of 20: ‘I knew almost nothing. Not about German expressionism, dadaism, surrealism or even cubism. And suddenly here was abstract expressionism. Paintings by Pollock, de Kooning, Guston, Still and many others, in the very buildings where I took classes every day. It was overwhelming. And not just for me. Even the professors had not seen this sort of work before.’ It was an event that would characterise his future and artistic career, establishing de Kooning as his main creative inspiration.

    His early work strayed away from the dominant movement of abstract painting and rather found stimulation in the symbolism of the body and corporeal depictions. In the early 1970’s, Baselitz highlighted the importance of aesthetic perception rather than thematic preconception by deliberately displaying his paintings upside down.

    Schwarze Nase exemplifies this distance from the apparent and exploration into the expressionistic. The painting features a barely distinguishable human profile behind multiple, gestural brushstrokes. The most superficial layer of the painting includes various black marks that became a signature motif in his works carried out in that decade. The almost smudge like design illustrates a freedom in both brushstroke and composition. Like Pollock, Baselitz lays his canvases on the floor to paint, allowing for further liberty in their execution. At times the artist uses his hands instead of the brushes, imbuing himself entirely in his work.

    By the time this lot was painted the artist had established an international reputation due to his influence on the ‘Neue Wilden’ movement of young German Neo-Expressionist painters. The term is a reference to the ‘wild artists,’ rather than ‘wild art’, who moved away from the Conceptual and Minimal in an effort to establish a more subjective, figurative form of art. The following works resulted in strong colouring, spontaneous compositions and gestural brushstrokes. Schwarze Nase is no exception: the composition is full yet still exposes elements of white canvas behind the impulsively applied brushstrokes. The bold injections of colour surrounding the suggestive profile form a strong impact in contrast to the surrounding black, gestural lines: ‘You can seduce with colour. You can manipulate with colour. I use them calculatedly. When you mix complementary colours with white… you create harmony. I did this on purpose. I wasn’t drunk when I did those paintings, I was very sober.’ (Georg Baselitz: ‘You can seduce with colour’, Chris Harvey, The Telegraph, Feb 2014)

    The human figure has always played a central role in his paintings. However, these characters are not presented in their complete form but rather as segments and fragments of their whole. In Schwarze Nase the title seems to suggest a focus on the facial feature of the nose, yet, without the descriptive title, this detail could easily be left unnoticed. ‘He found his perfect solution by inverting. You recognized the work’s subject but were also made to look at the marks by which it was created.’ (Stephen Coppel) The ambiguity of the image reflects an unease regarding the state of humanity that underlies all of Baselitz’s oeuvre. This sentiment has been associated with his experience of the wake of the Holocaust and of World War Two. Images of Heroes and Partisans, as part of one of his earlier series, are depicted as awkward and disproportioned, lost in their pre-determined roles and responsibilities. The later, aforementioned strategy of presenting his canvases upside down also supports this impression of upheaval.

    Baselitz’s simultaneous presentation as both international and fundamentally German corresponds to this slight sense of unease in his art. His works confront the tragic realities of German history post the Second World War. The anamorphic forms perturb yet satisfy the viewer and reflect the painter’s talent for the expression of profound and personal emotional. ‘ I became an artist because of the possibility it gave me to develop in another way, because I didn't want to follow the same lines the others around me did. I was educated in the former German Democratic Republic, which meant that an individual figure had to be... like a soldier in the army. So I forced myself to think about where I come from, and what has meaning for me.’ (New Again: Georg Baselitz, Interview magazine, Deborah Gimelson, 1995)


Schwarze Nase

oil on canvas
250 x 250 cm (98 3/8 x 98 3/8 in.)
Signed, titled, dedicated and dated '"Schwarze Nase" 14.VIII.90 18.VIII.90 24.II.91 G. Baselitz 11. "Ekki" 29.II.92' on the reverse.

£250,000 - 350,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £266,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 15 October 2014 7pm