Sculptures & black painting. From the beginning, his work has been marked by a visceral reaction to human trauma and tragedy, particularly with relation to German history. Baselitz was also heavily influenced by Art Brut, by the writings and drawings of Antonin Artaud and by African sculpture.
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac presents, in the
Pantin exhibition space inaugurated in
October 2012, a comprehensive exhibition
with new monumental sculptures by one of
the most distinguished German artists,
Chronologically, the exhibition takes up
where the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville
de Paris left off in its Baselitz sculpture
retrospective of September 2011 - January 2012. The past two years have seen the
creation of five new large - scale sculptures,
which will be presented to the public for the first time in the Pantin gallery.
"What is Germany, really, in regard to traditional sculpture?” in a recent interview, Baselitz looked back to questions he asked h imself in the 1970s: "The last thing I could think of in the way of pleasing or characteristic German sculpture after the Gothic period was the group Die Brücke, including Schmidt - Rottluff, Kirchner and Lehmbruck. When I finally arrived at this idea, I took a piece of wood and started work" (Georg Baselitz, 2011).
Baselitz's first sculpture was shown in the German Pavilion at the 1980 Venice Biennale. Since then he has made only a few. After Edgar Degas and Paul Gauguin, artists such as Umberto Boccioni, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Max Ernst chose readily malleable material as soon as they arrived at the limits of painting. Baselitz stands in this tradition of painters who leave their medium.
He finds sculpture "a shorter way than painting", to tackle certain problems; it is "more primitive, brutal, not as reserved [...] as painting can sometimes be", and "less c ryptic tha n pictures, far more direct, more legible" (Georg Baselitz, 1983). Besides this recourse to Expressionist sculpture, an important f ield of reference for Baselitz's sculpture is the fundamental nature of African sculpture, where specific basic types have been developed over a long period. Baselitz works exclusively with wood, negating both the idea of doing justice to the material and that of the stuffy, conservative reputation of wood sculpture. "Any appealing form [..] any arty - crafty elegance or deliberate construction is taboo" (Georg Baselitz, 1987). With great physical effort, he hacks, stabs and saws the block of wood, taking no account of the grain. "For a sculpture to take shape, the wood has to be forcibly opened" (Uwe Schneede, 1993). For the past ten years, Baselitz has had limited editions of his wood sculptures cast in bronze at the long - established Hermann Noack fine art foundry in Berlin. Here the finest details of the sculpted wood are reproduced. In Pantin, the five wood sculptures will for the first time be juxtaposed with their bronze versions.
The sculptures on show are: a seated figure evoking the Ecce Homo ; a sta nding couple with arms interlinked; a group of towering figures reminiscent of the iconographic Three Graces ; and two fetishistic sculptures showing a humanoid figure enclosed in rings. In the past months Baselitz has been working on a new block of works entitled Black Paintings.
After the series Blackout (2009) and The Negative (2012), a series in black would seem to be a logical step. Recently, Baselitz has frequently been quoted in the press as saying: "I dream of painting an invisible picture". Expressi ve representations of birds and human figures may be discerned in these pictures, though the shades Baselitz uses render them almost invisible. The figuration is revealed more through the highly structured surface of the heavy layers of black, dark blue an d brown, which give the surface a soft, waxy effect almost like encaustic pai nting – as used by Jasper Johns in the 1950s. In Pantin, t his bold series of paintings will be shown for the first time.
Georg Baselitz was born Hans - Georg Kern in 1938 in Deuts chbaselitz, Saxony. From the beginning, his work has been marked by a visceral reaction to human trauma and tragedy, particularly with relation to German history. Baselitz was also heavily influenced by “Art Brut,” by the writings and drawings of Antonin Artaud and by African sculpture. Georg Baselitz’s works have been the subject of numerous, international solo and group exhibitions since the early 1960s. His first major retrospective took place at the Solomon R. Guggenheim in New York in 1995, which we nt on to the Los Angeles County Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., the Nationalgalerie in Berlin and, in 1996, to the Musée d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. A second, significant retrospective took place at the Royal Academy in London in 2007, and two important shows have just taken place on the artist’s 50 years of painting and 30 years of sculpting at the Museum Frieder Burda and the Stattliche Kunsthalle in Baden - Baden.
On the occasion of his 75 th birthday, the Ess l Museum is dedicating a retrospective of Baselitz’s work, on view until 20 May 2013. An exhibition catalogue will be published in conjunction with the exhibition.
Opening on Friday 7 June, with the artist present, from 6pm to 8pm.
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac
69, avenue Général Leclerc, Paris
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10am to 7pm