Lot Content

COVID-19 Important notice Read More
Georg Baselitz (b. 1938)

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.
On occasion, Christie’s has a direct financial interest in lots consigned for sale, which may include guaranteeing a minimum price or making an advance to the consignor that is secured solely by consigned property. Christie’s may choose to assume this financial risk on its own or may contract with a third party for such third party to assume all or part of this financial risk. When a third party agrees to finance all or part of Christie’s interest in a lot, it takes on all or part of the risk of the lot not being sold, and will be remunerated in exchange for accepting this risk out of Christie’s revenues from the sale, whether or not the third party is a successful bidder. The third party may bid for the lot and may or may not have knowledge of the reserves. Where it does so, and is the successful bidder, the remuneration may be netted against the final purchase price. If the lot is not sold, the third party may incur a loss. Christie’s guarantee of a minimum price for this lot has been fully financed through third parties
These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.
Georg Baselitz (b. 1938)

Dreieck zwischen Arm und Rumpf (Triangle between Arm and Torso)

Details
Georg Baselitz (b. 1938) Dreieck zwischen Arm und Rumpf (Triangle between Arm and Torso) signed and dated 'G. Baselitz 1977' (lower left); signed again, titled and dated twice 'G. Baselitz 77 dreieck zwischen Arm + Rumpf April 1977' (on the reverse) oil on canvas 98½ x 78 5/8in. (250 x 200cm.) Painted in 1977
Provenance
Galerie Heiner Friedrich, Cologne.
Saatchi Collection, London.
Galerie Beyeler, Basel.
Michael Werner Gallery, New York/ Cologne.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2006.
Literature
documenta 6, exh, cat, Kassel, Museum Fridericianum, Orangerie & Neue Galerie Karlsaue, 1977, p. 54, no. 1.
Georg Baselitz, exh. cat., Vancouver, Vancouver Art Gallery, 1984 (illustrated in colour, p. 29).
R. Fuchs, H. Kramer and P. Schjeldahl, Art of Our Time. The Saatchi Collection 3, London 1984, p. 5, no. 9 (illustrated in colour, p. 39).
Georg Baselitz, schöne und häßliche Porträts, exh. cat., Stadt Karlsruhe, Städtische Galerie im Prinz-Max-Palais Karlsruhe, 1993 (illustrated, p. 154).
Exhibited
Saint Louis, The Saint Louis Art Museum, Expressions, New Art from Germany, Georg Baselitz, Jörg Immendorff, Anselm Kiefer, Markus Lüpertz, A.R. Penck, 1983 (illustrated, p. 69). This exhibition later travelled to Long Island City, The Institute for Art and Urban Resources; Philadelphia, Institute of Contemporary Art; Cincinnati, The Contemporary Arts Center; Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art; Newport Beach, Newport Harbor Art Museum and Washington, Corcoran Gallery of Art.
Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Georg Baselitz, 1992, p. 75, no. 13 (illustrated in colour, p. 35).
New York, Michael Werner Gallery, Penck and Baselitz from Beyeler, 2006.
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.
On occasion, Christie’s has a direct financial interest in lots consigned for sale, which may include guaranteeing a minimum price or making an advance to the consignor that is secured solely by consigned property. Christie’s may choose to assume this financial risk on its own or may contract with a third party for such third party to assume all or part of this financial risk. When a third party agrees to finance all or part of Christie’s interest in a lot, it takes on all or part of the risk of the lot not being sold, and will be remunerated in exchange for accepting this risk out of Christie’s revenues from the sale, whether or not the third party is a successful bidder. The third party may bid for the lot and may or may not have knowledge of the reserves. Where it does so, and is the successful bidder, the remuneration may be netted against the final purchase price. If the lot is not sold, the third party may incur a loss. Christie’s guarantee of a minimum price for this lot has been fully financed through third parties
These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.

Brought to you by

Katharine Arnold
Katharine Arnold

Lot Essay

‘Everything is a self-portrait, whether it’s a tree or a nude. It’s how the artist sees it … Everything that you see is a reflection of yourself’
GEORG BASELITZ

‘I prefer to deny the figure any particular shape or meaning – to keep it on the level of a general concept … Our tendency is to mimic the conventions of body language or facial expression. I try not to do that. I would like to operate between expressions, an expression or stance that is not so identifiable’
GEORG BASELITZ


With a distinguished provenance that includes both the Saatchi Collection and the Galerie Beyeler, Dreieck zwischen Arm und Rumpf (Triangle between Arm and Torso) is a monumental work from Georg Baselitz’s ground-breaking series of inverted self-portraits. Executed in 1977, the work was originally slated for inclusion in documenta VI that year: a historic event shrouded in political scandal. In protest of A. R. Penck’s exclusion in favour of four other ‘official’ East German artists, Baselitz, Gerhard Richter and Markus Lüpertz withdrew their paintings from the exhibition – including the present work. It was subsequently included the 1983 group show Expressions: New Art From Germany at the Saint Louis Art Museum, in which Baselitz, Lüpertz and Penck were reunited. Taking its place within the story of Germany’s divided past, the work quivers with visceral painterly power. A naked figure, his arm outstretched, is suspended in the centre of the composition, rendered in Baselitz’s signature upside-down format. Paint streams down the length of the canvas, applied in coarse streaks of impasto that filter into delicate rivulets. Thick passages of black are juxtaposed with scrubbed white pigment, backlit by fiery tones of red and orange. Placing himself in dialogue with the venerated tradition of self-portraiture – from Albrecht Dürer and Michelangelo, to Egon Schiele and Pablo Picasso – Baselitz extends the physical immediacy of his earlier Fingermalerei, in which he used his own fingers to fashion his likeness on canvas. Here, like a sculpture carved from a block of stone, the figure takes shape through intimate, tactile strokes. As if captured in motion, his form stutters with repeated traces of both arm and head. For Baselitz – ‘born into a destroyed order’ at the outbreak of the Second World War – painting upside down was a means of challenging the innate emotive power of his subjects (G. Baselitz, interview with D. Kuspit, ‘Goth to Dance’, in Artforum, Summer 1995, p. 76). Whilst the present work conjures memories of saluting armies, its loaded imagery is ultimately subsumed by its formal and technical narratives. All that remains – as the title suggests – is a triangle between arm and torso.

Baselitz had first begun painting upside down in 1969, following his seminal series of Hero and Fracture paintings. Rendering his subjects at a 180-degree rotation – a technical feat in itself – allowed him to expose their lack of intrinsic meaning. Harnessing folkloric, Teutonic imagery – German flora and fauna, eagles, forests and game animals – Baselitz’s inverted paintings brought about a kind of catharsis: a coming-to-terms with the realisation that these symbols had lost their potency in the aftermath of the war. Once upended, their connotations were eclipsed by their execution. ‘The hierarchy which has located the sky at the top and the earth at the bottom is, in any case, only a convention. We have got used to it, but we don’t have to believe in it. The only thing that interests me is the question of how I can carry on painting pictures’ (G. Baselitz, quoted in F. Dahlem, Georg Baselitz, Cologne 1990, p. 96). For Baselitz, these works – regardless of their subject matter – were fundamentally self-projections: symbols of his own position in an uprooted, destabilized world. ‘Everything is a self-portrait, whether it’s a tree or a nude’, he explained. ‘It’s how the artist sees it … Everything that you see is a reflection of yourself’ (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.15). During the 1970s, Baselitz would literalise this statement in a series of canvases that deliberately incorporated his own features – among them Fingermalerei- Akt (1972) (Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam) and Fingermalerei-Schwarzer Akt (1973) (Kunsthalle Kiel) and Fingermalerei-Akt (1972) (Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam), as well as the present painting. With these works, artist and technique had finally become one; painting, in all its tactile glory, had triumphed over content.

Baselitz’s approach to portraiture was deeply influenced by his encounters with Abstract Expressionism. While studying in Berlin, the artist visited the Museum of Modern Art’s ground-breaking exhibition The New American Painting, which toured Europe in 1958, as well as their major Jackson Pollock retrospective. He was particularly impressed by the latter’s all-over approach to painting, as well as the work of de Kooning, Kline and Phillip Guston. Baselitz’s use of colour, as well as his spatial innovations, were very much inspired by this new breed of American artists. Indeed, his decision to invert the traditional orientation of the canvas owes much to their break-down of the hierarchy between figure and ground. In Dreieck zwischen Arm und Rumpf, the human form teeters on the brink of abstraction, its stance reinterpreted as a mere marker of geometric space. ‘I prefer to deny the figure any particular shape or meaning – to keep it on the level of a general concept’, Baselitz explained. ‘… Our tendency is to mimic the conventions of body language or facial expression. I try not to do that. I would like to operate between expressions, an expression or stance that is not so identifiable’ (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. 15). As the horrors of the recent past lingered in the world’s psyche, Baselitz proposed a clean slate for art – one that celebrated materiality over meaning. Though the artist’s likeness hovers at the centre of the work, its ‘self-portrait’ is ultimately located in the nature of its execution: in the unbounded sweep of the brush, the crude fusion of pigment and fibre and the burning imprint of colour upon the retina.

More From Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction

View All