Georg Baselitz, Zweimal Treppe runter (Twice Down the Stairs), 2016, oil on canvas, 122 1/16 × 99 5/8 inches (310 × 253 cm) © Georg Baselitz 2016. Photo by Jochen Littkemann, Berlin
Opening reception: Tuesday, September 20th, from 6:00 to 8:00pm
This idea of “looking toward the future” is nonsense. I realized that simply going backwards is better. You stand in the rear of the train—looking at the tracks flying back below—or you stand at the stern of a boat and look back—looking back at what’s gone.
Gagosian is pleased to present “Jumping Over My Shadow,” an exhibition of new paintings, drawings, and monumental sculpture by Georg Baselitz.
In 1969, seeking to free painting from the constraint of immediate comparison to reality, Baselitz began inverting his subjects. He painted portraits and landscapes upside-down, creating compositions that appear at first as abstractions, but slowly resolve as representational works. More than four decades later, he continues to subvert the painted subject—now seeking atmospheric effects that impart to the viewer the sensation of peering through a vaporous void to discover ambiguous bodies within.
Baselitz’s work confronts the very limits of color, material, and composition. This, combined with his compulsive reference to self, produces an ever-expanding body of work in dialogue with precedents, including his own. Throughout his career, Baselitz has unceasingly revisited particular motifs. This consistent subject matter forms an anchor within a turbulent progression of painterly experimentation. “Jumping Over My Shadow” presents paintings and drawings that focus on the human body yet which make that body difficult to approach or perceive. This set of elusive self-portraits includes several unseen works that Baselitz made after the Avignon paintings, that were featured in the 2015 Biennale di Venezia, a series of eight towering vertical canvases, each containing a single visceral figure.
In these new works, with the intentionally obscured use of color, Baselitz conveys the sense of these bodies through the materiality of paint. In Abgang mit Marcel (Leaving with Marcel) (2016), drips of paint create a tangled vascular system for a ghostly, even weightless, figure. Its milky-white, partly translucent body oozes down the canvas, the head already beyond the edge. As suggested by its title, the work refers to Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase (1912), but instead of following a prismatic Cubist descent, Baselitz’s nude simply vanishes. Its feet float, failing to touch the staircase formed by a thin white line
While Baselitz’s paintings become ever more cryptic and abstruse, “Jumping Over My Shadow” places them with sculptures that strive for directness and legibility. Unlike the paintings and drawings, which seem to melt away, the sculptures are anchored in an obdurate materiality. The weight and solidity of bronze disguises itself in the dense matte black of charred wood: the resulting forms—skulls, legs like pieces of lumber in high heels, and a dancer—claim mythical origins in their elemental simplicity.
Georg Baselitz was born in 1938 in Deutschbaselitz, Saxony, and lives and works between Ammersee, Germany; Basel, Switzerland; Imperia, Italy; and Salzburg, Austria. His work is featured in public collections including Berlinische Galerie Museum of Modern Art, Berlin; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Fondation Beyeler, Basel; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Fisher Collection at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Städel Museum, Frankfurt; and Tate Modern, London.
Selected institutional exhibitions include “Georg Baselitz,” Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1995, traveled to Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; and Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin); “ Georg Baselitz—A Retrospective,” Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bonn (2004); “Baselitz—Remix,“ Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2006, traveled to Albertina, Vienna); “Georg Baselitz: A Retrospective,” Royal Academy of Arts, London (2007, traveled to MADRE, Naples); “Georg Baselitz: The Russian Paintings,” Musée d’Art Moderne, Saint-Étienne (2007, traveled to National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul; and Deichtorhallen, Hamburg); “Georg Baselitz: Pinturas Recentes,” Pinacoteca, São Paulo (2010–11); “Georg Baselitz,” and “Baselitz as Sculptor,” Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1996-97 / 2011–12); “Georg Baselitz: Works from 1968 to 2012,” Essl Museum, Vienna (2013); “Georg Baselitz—How it began…,” State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg (2015); and “Georg Baselitz – Back then, in between, and today,” Haus der Kunst, Munich (2014–15). The Avignon paintings (2014) were featured in “All the World’s Futures,” the 56th Biennale di Venezia (2015).
“Georg Baselitz: The Heroes” is currently on view at Städel Museum, Frankfurt until October 23, 2016. From there, it travels to Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome; and Museo Guggenheim, Bilbao through 2017.
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Gagosian was established in 1980 by Larry Gagosian.