Twittering (Gezwitscher)

Twittering (Gezwitscher)
signed, titled and dated 'G. Baselitz 30.XII 014 Gezwitscher' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas, in artist's frame
58 ½ x 45 ¾in. (148.5 x 116.2cm.)
Painted in 2014
White Cube.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Sale room notice
Please note that this work is signed, titled and dated 'G. Baselitz 30.XII 014 Gezwitscher' (on the reverse)

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Anna Touzin
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Lot Essay

Painted in 2014, Twittering (Gezwitscher) is a dynamic example of Georg Baselitz’s late works, which are widely celebrated for their expressive, gestural qualities. It forms part of the Saxony-born artist’s Glyndebourne series, a group of fourteen monochromatic canvases of varying dimensions, each featuring rotating legs upon a pale ground and enclosed within a gold frame. Clad in heeled shoes, the feet step around the edges of the canvas from a central pivot. Like spokes of a wheel, they animate the work with a perpetual rotation. Speed and movement are heightened through Baselitz’s brushwork. Thinning his oils to achieve the translucent, fluid quality of watercolour, the artist applied his medium with rapid, direct gestures, painting on the floor with brushes, sticks, and his own hands. Evoking the distinctive and uncouth working methods of Abstract Expressionist titan Jackson Pollock, here, black paint drips, smudges and splatters against the cream surface in a rhythmic, almost sonic spectacle. Indeed, inspired by a wide variety of musical sources for the series—Bach, Mozart, Wagner, folk and hurdy-gurdy—Baselitz explained, ‘I try to catch the music, for example in a golden frame’ (G. Baselitz quoted in, George Baselitz: White Cube at Glyndebourne, exh. cat. White Cube, London 2015, unpaged). The title of the present work denotes birdsong and its melodic kinship with folk music, and here, light and bristling with energy, the shoes flutter in circles like silhouetted birds.

The foot has featured as a leitmotif in Baselitz’s work since the early 1960s. Marking the juncture between the earth and the body, feet hold particular significance for the artist. ‘Feet are my earth-wire’, he has said; ‘for me the reception via an earth-wire is much better than through an antenna’ (G. Baselitz, quoted in ibid.). Grounding and rooting, they are also the vehicle of movement, dance and rebellion, and are often employed as a metonym for the whole body within Baselitz’s oeuvre. The first manifestation of the subject was in his seminal ‘Pandemonic Feet’ series of 1963, comprising impasto depictions of grotesquely disfigured and severed feet. The iconographic radial composition of rotating legs first developed in the early 2000s, most famously as part of the artist’s ‘Mexico’ series of works of 2005-2006, which were inspired by Mexican dance and Frida Kahlo’s wooden leg. Drawing not only from music and dance, but a bank of art-historical forebears within his work, the artist has been variously inspired by outsider art, Informel and Abstract Expressionism, as well as dreams and the art of children. Here, one can also glimpse traces of the diamond dust shoes and dance diagrams of twentieth-century Pop icon Andy Warhol. Whirring with motion, the present painting speaks to the momentum and unrelenting drive behind Baselitz’s artistic practice.

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