Jäger mit Hund (Hunter with Dog)

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Heiner Friedrich, Munich
    Collection Borgmann, Cologne
    Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich
    Acquired from the above by the late owner in October 1989

  • Exhibited

    London, Runkel-Hue-Williams Ltd; London, Grob Gallery, Georg Baselitz. Paintings. Bilder 1962-1988, 19 September - 2 November 1990, pp. 22, 23, 68 (illustrated, p. 23)
    Southampton City Art Gallery; Manchester City Art Galleries; Hull, Ferens Art Gallery; London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Drawing the Line, 13 January - 10 September 1995, no. 11, pp. 62, 105 (illustrated, p. 62)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Executed at a pivotal moment during the artist’s prolific oeuvre, Jäger mit Hund is an arresting example of Georg Baselitz’s visceral experiments with line and form, an enquiry that not only shaped but defined post-war German art. Created in 1967, the present work on paper demonstrates Baselitz’s mastery of graphite to convey the vitality of his fragmented microcosms, his compositions intricately weaved with formal complexities. Selected for Michael Craig-Martin’s curated touring exhibition Drawing the Line, the present work travelled through major British institutions such as Manchester City Art Galleries to Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1995, chosen as a triumph of twentieth century drawing. Deftly able to encapsulate anxiety and frantic energy in his splintered compositions, Baselitz’s Jäger mit Hund interweaves the varying segments of scattered forms into a synergy of line and medium. Subsuming us into his disordered world, Baselitz expertly traverses figuration and abstraction in the present ruptured composition of a hunter and his dog, an important piece from the Karshan collection.

    A key work from his graphic output, Jäger mit Hund is an exemplary work on paper from Baselitz’s Frakturbilder series, a body of work that the artist commenced upon his move to the rural village Osthofen in the Rheinland Palatinate with his family in 1966. Baselitz embarked on a number of formal experimentations with paintings, woodcuts and works on paper, manipulating the appearance of his earlier series of Helden, his fallen heroic figures, and incorporating rural motifs such as dogs, hunters, cows and woodsmen. In the present work, a hunter to the right of the composition stands before an unidentified building, gazing away from the scene as his dog crouches to the left. Frenetic and repeated lines overlap and intersect, appearing both purposeful and incidental in their execution. Tears, rips and contusions smash the pictorial plane into a crystalline formation, while cross hatched graphite areas interlock with familiar forms. Evoking rural scenes of pastoral nostalgia, Baselitz’s Frakturbilder plunge us into allegorical worlds of hunters, animals and village scenes, each containing a twisted narrative, which transcend time and place. Baselitz’s pastoral surroundings provided visual stimuli for his fractured idylls; the rustic subject matter utilised by Baselitz evokes idyllic imagery which refers to the ethnic ideology supported by National Socialist cultural policy. In Jäger mit Hund, Baselitz builds a layered visual syntax that refers to notions of sentimentality, German folkloric tradition and the politicisation of art within National Socialist rhetoric. Baselitz’s hunter and dog are not solely showcased as quintessential symbols of German rural life. Instead, through his splicing and disfiguring of these motifs, Baselitz references the usage of these tropes during National Socialism and also questions their associations in post-war German culture.

    Mirroring the dislocation of Germany post-war, a country dissected into zones and divided by deep fissures, voids and wounds, the composition in Jäger mit Hund is sectioned and seemingly in disarray, with pencil strokes of billowing smoke appearing to rise amidst the scorched scene. Jagged edges blend and dissolve into new twisted objects; in the present work severed limbs are isolated and amputated from their bodies, littering the floor of the scene. Exploring notions of violence and destruction, Baselitz selected lone body parts and placed them at the forefront of his subject matter in his earlier 1960 to 1963 series of Pandemonium works, as evident in his evocative work P. D. Fusse (1960-1963). Influenced by Théodore Géricault’s studies of body parts in preparation for his harrowing masterpiece, The Raft of the Medusa (1818-19), Baselitz’s autopsical paintings and Frakturbilder not only refer to the atrocities of the Holocaust and the physicality of warfare, but also the splintering of German cultural identity in the wake of Stunde Null. Drawing influence from Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty in his Frakturbilder, Baselitz focuses on organising and ordering the disordered through a selection of subtle gestures, accentuation and movements, which draw in and integrate the viewer. Fractured by compositional rifts, the present work is interlaced with order then conversely displacement, a visual culmination of a country ruptured by National Socialist rule.

    In Jäger mit Hund, and evident throughout his Frakturbilder series, Baselitz sought to experiment with the representation of German cultural identity through the depiction of his forlorn Hero figures. In the present work, the hunter has become the hunted. His right arm is suspended independently from his body as scattered stray objects, which appear to be limbs, impede his path. A fallen body lies to his left, while a pouncing dog gnaws the left arm in its locked jaws. The corpse’s blank and lifeless face echoes the horror encapsulated in Baselitz’s totemic and otherworldly Oberon figures. Influenced by the style of the Mannerist painters, Baselitz’s figures appear almost anthropomorphically distorted, their heads swollen and their thick squared bodies face the viewer defiantly; the slight bend of the hunter’s limbs and posture radiates with both stoicism and fragility. Standing alone against the discordant backdrop, Baselitz’s hunter remains solemn with his downturned mouth, standing to attention rather than in the midst of a hunt. Reflective and battle weary, a discarded limb appears to grab at the hunter’s leg anchoring him to the floor. Questioning both masculinity and heroism in Germany following the end of World War Two, Baselitz’s male hunter transcends classical notions of typified heroism, as celebrated under National Socialism, and instead presents a more complex symbol of identity in a divided Germany.

    As exemplified in Jäger mit Hund, Baselitz’s multi-layered and complex compositions appear to shift shape with the movement of the onlooker. By infracting compositional elements in the present work, so Baselitz destroys the narrative of his scene, inviting the viewer to explore and piece together both visual peculiarities and recognisable elements, rebuilding their own individual associations through the movement of varying forms. By fracturing his subjects in Jäger mit Hund Baselitz does not destroy any of their materiality or subject matter, rather he displaces it momentarily, never losing the connection between the varying parts. For example, the arm of the hunter visually remains part of his bodily corporeality, despite levitating to his left, positioned at an awkward and unnatural angle. It is this masterful ability to create and build a visual dialogue between the viewer and the work, whilst presenting a scene of apparent destruction, which establishes Baselitz’s artistic practice as one of the most important voices in German post-war art.

Ο8

A Tale of Two Cities: Property from the Estate of Howard Karshan

Jäger mit Hund (Hunter with Dog)

signed and dated 'G. Baselitz 67' lower right
graphite on paper
62.9 x 48.6 cm (24 3/4 x 19 1/8 in.)
Executed in 1967.

Estimate
£250,000 - 350,000 ‡ ♠

sold for £285,000

Contact Specialist
Henry Highley
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061 hhighley@phillips.com

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 5 October 2018