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  • Provenance

    Galerie Meyer-Hohmeister, Karlsruhe (acquired directly from the artist)
    Private Collection, Karlsruhe

  • Exhibited

    Karlsruhe-Durlach, Galerie Meyer-Hohmeister, Georg Baselitz - Fünf farbige Arbeiten auf Canson, 1987, n.p. (illustrated)
    Kunstmuseum Basel, Georg Baselitz. Der Vorhang 'Anna selbdritt' und die dazugehörigen Zeichnungen, 5 June - 29 August 1993, pp. 10 and 16 (illustrated, p. 16)
    Berlin, Contemporary Fine Arts, Hommage à Georg Baselitz, 23 January - 3 March 2018, pp. 45 and 61 (illustrated, p. 45)

  • Literature

    Edward Quinn, Georg Baselitz: eine fotografische Studie, Bern, 1993, p. 30 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    A painterly manifestation of Georg Baselitz’ esteemed pictorial strategies, the present work is an expansion of the artist’s characteristic inversion technique. With purposefully rough brushwork and a bold palette, Untitled, 1987, belongs to a group of five works on Canson paper, each the same scale painted, prior to - and subsequently influencing- his monumental Anna selbdritt tapestry of 1987. These five works composed on paper present frontal, life sized and boldly executed female figures which the artist refers to as his ‘Female Giants’.

    Having been commissioned in 1987 by the priest Hans-Joachim Dose, to create a work for the chapel in Luttrum and Grasdorf, Germany, Baselitz composed a monumental tapestry Anna selbdritt. Titled after the Christian iconography of the holy Anna with her daughter Maria and the Christchild, ‘Selbdritt’ refers to the triad of figures. The immense stretch of needlework was however too large for the designated space and the artist instead selected another 1983 canvas, later named Tanz ums Kreuz, to occupy the room. The present work, executed in 1987 in Baselitz’ house and atelier in Castiglion Fiorentino, Tuscany, in part inspired the artist’s subsequent tapestry. Each ‘Female Giant’, is depicted with an accentuated head, large breasts, short legs and primitively executed feet. The five works, to which the present work belongs, inform the silhouettes of the religious icons Anna and Maria in the final tapestry.

    In his works of the period, the second half of 1986 and the early months of 1987, Baselitz uses painterly devices to emphasize the figures, the broad lines of darker pigment reinforcing the explicitly graphic elements that are unprecedented in earlier works. Combining charcoal and pastel drawing with oil on handmade paper, the artist was actively experimenting with new methods of creation. Baselitz’ constructed experimentation combines several of his esteemed pictorial strategies, inversion, bold tonality and expressive brushwork that is carved into the contours of the figures and forms.

    Having begun inverting his paintings in 1969, Baselitz actively interrogated his subject matter. Defying representation and seeking to liberate it from content, the artist inverted his image as means to stimulate the viewer to observe the picture as a painted plane, as opposed to a mirage of representational subject matter. Bringing the act of painting into the fore, the devices employed by the artist in the present composition, the inversion of the figure and the architectural shorthand of the gridded framework, elevate the prominence of the central figure. Declaring the autonomy of the image over the subject of the painting, Baselitz enhances the relationship between the image and its reference through the artist’s literal act of making.

    Enveloped by explicitly graphic elements, the protagonist is framed by the artist’s grid-like webbing reminiscent of the gate structure seen in the final tapestry. First incorporating these geometric frameworks in the late 1970s, Baselitz forces the central figure to assert itself against the graphic forms of the ground. Simultaneously supported and formally disrupted by the artist’s linear emphasis, the irregular network of lines interferes with the head of the figure. Competing with the abstract network of lines, painterly and transparent with no solid physical presence, the dynamics of the subject matter is intensified and instils the composition with a depth of meaning.

    With bold brushstrokes, almost built into the sheet, the present work shares qualities with Baselitz’ wooden sculptures, which became important to his artistic vision directly prior to the execution of the present work. Central to his activity during the second half of 1986 and early 1987, the tangible and graphic grid-like forms of the present work are seen carved into the surface of sculptures such as G-Kopf, 1987 (Museum Ludwig, Cologne). Here, the portrait is intertwined with incisions, the artist’s gridded lines evolving from the second into the third dimension.

    In Untitled, the harsh abruptness of the artist’s architectural shorthand, paired with the boldly painted brushstrokes of the figure, bring the act of painting into play. The checkerboard of lines that form a decisive part of Baselitz’ opus, reinstate the artist’s commitment to the autonomy of painting. A manifestation of the artist’s painterly and sculptural experimentations, the present work is a commanding example of his concern with the formal aspects of painting: colour, shape, line and brushstroke.

  • Artist Biography

    Georg Baselitz

    Enthusiastically disruptive and perennially iconoclastic, Georg Baselitz stands out as an artistic outlier among Germany’s impressive roster of postwar artmakers. Born in the former German Democratic Republic and expelled from his East German art school for “sociopolitical immaturity,” Baselitz retreated to the West and quickly became known for creatively challenging widespread artistic conventions by painting in a violent and energetic form of representation in gleeful defiance of the prevailing abstract tendencies of the avant-garde following World War II. Baselitz, favoring figuration, painted caustic portraits and kinetic landscapes in the tradition of the German Expressionists before literally upending his practice in the late 1960s by painting upside-down, creating a disarming pseudo-abstract effect that emphasizes surface over substance.

    Baselitz’s work has been widely celebrated for its unapologetic and unconventional innovation as well as for its occasionally confrontational subject matter. Baselitz’s critical breakthrough came in 1963 with the debut of the unabashedly outrageous painting Die groβe Nacht im Eimer, currently in the collection of the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, which immediately attracted the attention of the German media and judicial system. This work, and others, set the tone for a long and celebrated career of convention-shattering paintings, prints, and sculptures that are at once stylistically innovative and deferential to the German artistic tradition. Today, Baselitz’s work can be found in major institutions worldwide such as the Museum Ludwig and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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signed with the artist's initials and dated 'G.B. 25.IV.1987' lower right
oil and charcoal on Canson
255.2 x 147 cm (100 1/2 x 57 7/8 in.)
Executed in 1987.

£300,000 - 400,000 

Sold for £447,000

Contact Specialist
Henry Highley
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061 [email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 5 October 2018