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Georg Baselitz (B. 1938)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Georg Baselitz (B. 1938)

Albert Einstein

Georg Baselitz (B. 1938)
Albert Einstein
signed 'G. Baselitz' (lower left), dated '7.XII 2003' (lower right)
watercolour, gouache and ink on paper
82 7/8 x 66 ¾in. (210.6 x 169.7cm.)
Executed in 2003
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Paris, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Georg Baselitz: Monumental Watercolours, 2004.
Salzburg, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, 20 Years, 2004.
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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.
All sold and unsold lots marked with a filled square in the catalogue that are not cleared from Christie’s by 5:00 pm on the day of the sale, and all sold and unsold lots not cleared from Christie’s by 5:00 pm on the fifth Friday following the sale, will be removed to the warehouse of ‘Cadogan Tate’. Please note that there will be no charge to purchasers who collect their lots within two weeks of this sale.

Lot Essay

With its vast double portrait of Albert Einstein playing the violin, Georg Baselitz’s Albert Einstein is an exquisite example of the monumental watercolour works that the artist produced during the early 2000s. This distinctive series of paintings, examples of which are currently held in the Albertina, Vienna, marks a definitive phase in Baselitz’s recent career. Since the reunification of Germany in 1990, much of Baselitz’s work has been concerned with looking back, reflecting upon his native country’s past as well as recalling elements of his own personal life. Alongside portrayals of his wife and family, the monumental watercolours feature historical icons and imagery drawn from the vernacular of Socialist Realism. As an artist whose practice has, since the 1960s, engaged with the fractures and divisions of his post-War homeland, Baselitz’s presentation of Albert Einstein is significant: as a figure whose groundbreaking theories were denounced by the Nazi regime, Einstein’s work is deeply embedded within the cultural and political history of twentieth-century Germany. Stretching the intimate, domestic connotations of watercolour painting onto an unparalleled scale of gigantic proportions, Baselitz combines his own unique graphic style with dark, liquescent swathes of paint. Blurring the boundaries between drawing and painting, Baselitz’s watery pigments create thin veils of colour that seem to mirror the slippages of time and memory. In his dramatic overhaul of the medium, Baselitz redefines the technical limitations of watercolour painting, creating fluid gestural surfaces that act as vehicles for personal and historical reflection.

Through their colossal scale and individual narratives, Baselitz’s monumental watercolours may be seen to relate to the series of large cedar-wood sculptures that he initiated during the year of the present work. The first of these, Meine Neue Mütze (My New Hat), was conceived as a self-portrait: holding a skull with his wristwatch set to midnight, the artist’s self-depiction took the form of a poignant memento mori, magnified to overwhelming proportions. Indeed, much of Baselitz’s work from this period engages directly with his own sense of identity, both as a German and as an artist, and his reflections on national history are intricately bound up with this tendency. In many ways, the monumental watercolours may be seen to pave the way for the so-called Remix paintings, conceived just two years later in 2005, which reworked motifs and compositions from his earlier oeuvre. In the present work, Baselitz invokes his signature upside down mode, initiated in 1969 during the formative years of his practice. However, like many of the works from his watercolour series, Baselitz presents his image in both inverted and non-inverted format, one on top of the other, creating a dual-aspect vision of his subject that enhances the work’s sense of temporal displacement. Baselitz’s upside-down technique was originally conceived as a way of distancing himself from the symbolism of his chosen subject matter and engaging more closely with the physical substance of his media. However, working here with ink and watercolour rather than the thick impasto of his youth, Baselitz’s inverted image is transformed into an instance of formal play, a hazy recollection of a past way of seeing

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