Georg Baselitz was born Hans-Georg Kern in 1938 in Saxony, an area that later became part of East Germany. In 1956, whilst studying painting at the Academy of Art in East Berlin, he was expelled for ‘political immaturity’ for not having conformed to DDR standards in art. He then enrolled at the Academy in West Berlin completing his studies in 1962. During this period he adopted the surname Baselitz, reflecting his birth place, Deutschbaselitz. His first solo exhibition took place in 1963 in Berlin amid controversy when several of his paintings were confiscated by the German authorities on the grounds of public indecency.
In the mid-1960s Baselitz embarked on a series of paintings depicting monumental male figures which he described as Rebels, Shepherds or A New Type (‘Ein neuer Typ’). Viewed within the Romantic tradition, the rebel is often regarded as an outsider associated with the figure of the artist. These paintings are referred to as the ‘Hero’ (‘Helden’) series and were influenced by Italian Mannerist prints which Baselitz saw on a scholarship to Florence in 1965. Four years later, Baselitz introduced what became the signature motif for the next 50 years, depicting all his imagery upside down. During the 1980s and early 1990s, his work became denser and more heavily worked.
A prolific printmaker, Baselitz engages with various technical processes, working extensively in woodcut, linocut and etching. He describes the resistant qualities of copper plates, wood blocks and linoleum blocks as creative forces in his art and has referred to prints as having "symbolic power which has nothing to do with a painting." He is also known for distinctive printed surfaces created with oil paint rather than traditional printer's ink. As well as having his own printing press, Baselitz favours working with a selection of leading print studios and master printers to realise his graphic works.
Baselitz established his international reputation with exhibitions at the Venice Biennale 1980 and Documenta 1983. In 2021 Baselitz was elected a foreign associate member of the prestigious Académie des beaux-arts, one of five institutions comprising the Institut de France.
2023 marked Baselitz's 85th birthday, which was celebrated with exhibitions across Europe and the US. This included a major retrospective featuring five decades of the artist's work exhibited together with forty Old Masters at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Other exhibitions across the year included The Morgan Library & Museum, New York; Museum Würth 2, Künzelsau; Kunstmuseum Schloss Derneburg; Albertina Museum, Vienna; Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest; Albertinum, Staatliche; Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München; and The Serpentine, London.
Prior to this exhibitions and retrospectives include Museo di Palazzo Grimani, Venice; The Emilio and Annabianca Vedova Foundation, Venice (2021); Kunstmuseum, Basel (2018); Beyeler Foundation, Basel which travelled to Hischhorn Museum, Washington D.C. (2018); CAFA Art Museum, Beijing; Fire Station, Doha (2017); Tate Modern London (2015); Kunsthalle Baden-Baden (2009); Royal Academy of Arts, London (2007); Louisiana Museum, Copenhagen (2006); Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (1996); Guggenheim Museum, New York (1995); Bibliothéque Nationale, Paris (1990) and Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1983). His paintings, sculptures and prints are in the collections of major museums around the world.
Georg Baselitz lives and works in Basel, Switzerland; Lake Ammersee, Germany; and Imperia, Italy.
News, Events and Museum Exhibitions
Major solo exhibition of sculpture opens in London
Solo Exhibition | Works on Paper
Solo Exhibition | Georg Baselitz: 100 Drawings
Georg Baselitz: Naked Masters
Solo Exhibition | Georg Baselitz on his 85th birthday
Solo Exhibition | Georg Baselitz: Six Decades of Drawing
Solo Exhibition | Georg Baselitz: Vedova accendi la luce
Solo Exhibition | Georg Baselitz: Archinto
Georg Baselitz in The Human Touch
Georg Baselitz in 'The Young Years of the Old Masters'
Major exhibition during Venice Biennale
Exhibition: Vedova di/by Baselitz
Review: “Baselitz unleashes a joyous arsenal of artistic ingenuity on these crude images of a couple making love.”
Review: "The emotional resonance is one of familiarity and comfort."
Review: "There is humor and humanity in their interactions."
Interview: “When I work, I always think about my past. My background was very ordinary and rural in a place far off the beaten track.”
Review: "Get all round, behind and underneath the sculptures. The more you look, the more varied their textures are."
Review: 'Georg Baselitz: Naked Masters' receives five stars
Preview: Georg Baselitz at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna
Review: Six Decades of Drawing at the Morgan, New York
Interview: ‘Like being beaten with a bat’: Georg Baselitz on eye-opening art
Interview: “Ever since starting out in the early 1960s, he has felt like an 'outsider', working in isolation against prevailing trends.”
Interview: “I work, I do my nonsense, and refuse to rest!”
Review: “These are uniquely vulnerable prints (etchings and aquatints) of hands in an extraordinary range of hues of ink.”
Georg Baselitz: Devotion
This catalogue was published to accompany the exhibition Georg Baselitz: Devotion, held at the gallery in 2019. The fully illustrated publication features an introduction by Director Alan Cristea and an essay by Georg Baselitz in both German and English.
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Georg Baselitz: Hands
This catalogue was published to accompany the exhibition Georg Baselitz: Hands, held at the gallery in 2021. The fully illustrated publication features a foreword by Director David Cleaton-Roberts and an essay by psychoanalyst and author, Darian Leader.
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Exhibitions at Cristea Roberts Gallery
- Ali Banisadr
- Christiane Baumgartner
- Rana Begum
- Pablo Bronstein
- Gordon Cheung
- Rhys Coren
- Michael Craig-Martin
- Dexter Dalwood
- Ian Davenport
- Miriam de Búrca
- Jan Dibbets
- Jim Dine
- Joy Gerrard
- Antony Gormley
- Marie Harnett
- Yinka Ilori
- Idris Khan
- Langlands & Bell
- Richard Long
- Mick Moon
- David Nash
- Paul Noble
- Odili Donald Odita
- Julian Opie
- Mimmo Paladino
- Cornelia Parker
- Vicken Parsons
- Bridget Riley
- Francis Ruyter
- Yinka Shonibare CBE
- Emma Stibbon
- Joe Tilson
- Barbara Walker
- Paul Winstanley
- Clare Woods
- Richard Woods