Georg Baselitz - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Wednesday, October 3, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Wide White Space Gallery, Antwerp
    Galerie Thomas Borgmann, Cologne
    Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich
    Acquired from the above by the late owner in November 1991

  • Exhibited

    Antwerp, Wide White Space Gallery, Georg Baselitz: Tekeningen en Schilderijen, 6 November - 5 December 1970, no. 15 (titled Tüte)
    Munich, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung; Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art; Vienna, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Georg Baselitz: Retrospektive 1964-1991, 20 March - 13 September 1992, no. 53, n.p. (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Born in 1938, Baselitz came of age in the tumultuous period following World War II. Moving from East to West Germany before the building of the Berlin Wall, his artwork is heavily informed by the fractured sense of identity inherent in Germany as a country and as a nation.

    The present selection of works on paper outline the crucial and poignant developments of the artist’s early output. Consumed by notions of violence and devastation, Georg Baselitz expressively inverted the symbols of Germanic tradition as visible in Ohne Titel (Kreuz), 1960, where the cross, hovering above a smoking cauldron-like vat perhaps alludes to a country divided by National Socialist rule. The skeletal face, disjointed from any clear context in Morgenstunde, 1962 preliminarily introduces Baselitz’s Helden (Heroes) series.

    A vividly powerful drawing from Baselitz’s Frakturbilder (Fracture Pictures) series (1965-66), Geteilter Held, 1966, expressively depicts Baselitz’s fallen heroic figures incorporating his prestigious Helden (Heroes) motif. Divergent to the aggressive, frenetic directness of the black ink lines, turning away from the viewer, the figure conveys resignation and vulnerability, undeniably haunted by the war years. Plumes of smoke billow into the etched sky, merging and dissecting from the surrounding forms. Ghostly swathed legs cross the barren terrain in the fractured lower half. Baselitz’s works on paper from this series often informed his larger works on canvas. Despite the often colourful execution and charged broad brushstrokes of the large works on canvas commanding immediate direct focus, the tangibility of his works on paper have a powerful intimate quality through their relatable scale.

    In 1969, Baselitz started painting his works upside down, fundamentally shattering any conventional assumptions about the subject by removing it from its context. 'Painting is not a means to an end,' stated Baselitz, 'on the contrary; painting is autonomous. And I said to myself: if this is the case, then I must take everything which has been an object of painting –landscape, the portrait and the nude, for example –and paint it upside‐down. That is the best way to liberate representation from content' (Georg Baselitz, quoted in Georg Baselitz, exh. cat., Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1995, p. 71). Unhinging and disjointing trees, terrains and figures, Baselitz wrestles with the recognition that it would never be possible to see the world in the same way again. Ohne Titel, circa 1973, demonstrates the artist's technique of successfully segregating the subject from its pre-conceived associations. Taken out of its landscape setting, the solid vertical body of the tree trunk, executed in felt tip pen, is contrastingly shadowed by a delicate and graceful ink outline. For Baselitz, these works, irrespective of their subject matter, were fundamentally self‐projections: symbols of his own lonely place as an artist in a destabilized world. ‘Everything is a self‐portrait, whether it’s a tree or a nude… It’s how the artist sees it … Everything that you see is a reflection of yourself’ (Georg Baselitz, quoted in, Marla Auping ‘Georg Baselitz: Portraits of Elke’, in Georg Baselitz: Portraits of Elke, exh. cat., Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth, 1997‐1999, p.15).

    This selection of works from the collection of Howard Karshan encapsulate Baselitz’s early compositional and contextual explorations during an intensely experimental period for the artist. The fractured narrative alters the viewers experience, powerfully demonstrating Baselitz’s ability to confront historical realities and depict them in a fresh, unique manner.

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


Geteilter Held (Divided Hero)

signed and dated 'G Baselitz 66' lower right; further signed, inscribed and dated 'Baselitz, Tüte" 1966' on a label affixed to the reverse
ink, graphite and wash on paper
31.8 x 21 cm (12 1/2 x 8 1/4 in.)
Executed in 1966.

£120,000 - 180,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £75,000

Contact Specialist
Tamila Kerimova
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4065
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 4 October 2018