Georg Baselitz was born Hans-Georg Kern in 1938 in Deutschbaselitz, Saxony, an area that later became the German Democratic Republic, or DDR. In 1957, after his second term studying painting at the Academy of Fine and Applied Arts in East Berlin, he was sent down for ‘political immaturity’. Later that year, he moved to West Berlin’s Academy of Art, completing his studies there in 1962. It was during this period that he adopted the surname Baselitz, after his birthplace.
Searching for alternatives to the two strands dominating painting at the beginning of his career, Eastern-Bloc Socialist Realism and Western abstraction, Baselitz became interested in art outside of these mainstreams. He was inspired by Art Brut, Dada and Surrealism, as well as by Existentialist literature. In 1969 he made the momentous decision to create and display his works upside down. This innovation enabled him to emphasise the abstract qualities of his compositions while retaining the psychological charge of their figurative subject matter.
In 2005 Baselitz began to ‘Remix’ a number of his earlier works. He returned to key phases of his own art history and made new, reimagined versions of important earlier images. This has allowed him to revisit and excavate the past while also expanding his painterly vocabulary further, and resulting in the creation of works that are both fresh and liberated. Key themes in his recent paintings include memory-based portraits of himself and his wife Elke, his own ageing process and allusions to artists he admires. Throughout his career, the artist has also made drawings and prints as a separate, independent practice.
Georg Baselitz lives and works near Salzburg, Austria; at lake Ammersee, Germany; and Imperia, Italy. He has exhibited widely, including solo shows at Museo di Palazzo Grimani, Venice (2022); Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Paris (2021); Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice (2019); Fondation Beyeler, Basel, Switzerland, and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington (2018); Städel Museum, Frankfurt (2016 -- 17, travelling); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2014); Franz Marc Museum, Kochel am See, Germany (2014); Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris (2011 and 1996); Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister der Staatlichen Kunstsammlung Dresden, Germany (2009); Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany (2009); Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donna Regina, Naples (2008); Royal Academy of Arts, London (2007); Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark (2006); and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1995, travelling). Significant group exhibitions include ‘Baselitz, Richter, Polke, Kiefer -- The Early Years of the Old Masters’, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Germany (2019, travelling); the 56th, 52nd, 39th Venice Biennale (2015, 2007, 1980); ‘Germany Divided, Baselitz and His Generation from the Duerckheim Collection’, British Museum, London (2014); Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (1995, 1988, 1985); ‘Bilderstreit’, Museum Ludwig / Rheinhallen, Cologne (1989); ‘A New Spirit in Painting’, Royal Academy of Arts, London (1981); and Documenta 7 and 5, Kassel, Germany (1982, 1972).