Georg Baselitz (b. 1938)
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Georg Baselitz (b. 1938)

Abe

Details
Georg Baselitz (b. 1938)
Abe
signed, titled and dated '22.VII.93 - 31.VII.93 "Abe" G. Baselitz' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
137.5 x 101cm.
Painted in 1993
Provenance
Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne.
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1998.
Exhibited
Zurich, Galerie Jamileh Weber, Georg Baselitz, 1995 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
Post lot text
This work is registered in the archives of Georg Baselitz under no. GB/M 1993.07.31.
Sale room notice
Please note that this work was acquired from Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac in 1998, and not as stated in the printed catalogue.

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Lisa Snijders
Lisa Snijders

Lot Essay

Painted between 22 and 31 July 1993, Abe is a powerful example of Georg Baselitz’s ability to set abstraction and figuration against each other, suspending the two in a vital, electrifying opposition. A vibrant, shocking red hovers over the surface of the painting, barely reaching its sides: the theatrical curtain of colour insists on its own physicality, on its own dominant presence in space. Into this surface, Baselitz carves his design, physically scoring the red expanse with sinuous lines of blue and brown. With each mark, Baselitz upends the rarified modernist tradition of monochromatic abstraction; instead, the artist sketches out the rudimentary outline of a figure with a raised fist, a leitmotif which has recurred over some fifty years of his career. With a final effortless scattering of unevenly applied daubs of paint, Baselitz creates a image which ceaselessly and mesmerizingly oscillates, coming together into a figure, then dissolving back into abstraction. For the artist, ‘a painting is built one brushstroke at a time. You can see the figure or you can see the brushstrokes. It doesn’t really matter to the painter’ (G. Baselitz, quoted in, M. Auping, ‘Georg Baselitz: Portraits of Elke’, in Georg Baselitz: Portraits of Elke, exh. cat., Fort Worth, Museum of Modern Art, 1997-1999, p. 30).
Since the beginning of his career in the 1960s, Baselitz’s concern has been to distance himself from all accepted norms in art: the practices of Art Informel favoured in Western Europe, the Socialist Realism sanctioned by East Germany and the discourses of American abstraction. By turning the painted world on its head, now such a hallmark of his work, he sought to entrench the power of the figurative image by reenergising it, to reinvest realism with a new sense of purpose. ‘Painting is not a means to an end,’ the artist explained this decision. ‘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’ (G. Baselitz, quoted in Georg Baselitz, exh. cat., Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1995, p. 71). Liberating painting from convention and custom, in Abe, Baselitz makes a powerful case for the vitality of the medium.
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