Mein Karren is a fascinating painting within the development of Baselitz's oeuvre, displaying much of the iconography employed by the artist in his famous "Hero" series, but stylistically adhering to the revolutionary technique of his "Fracture Paintings." In this way, Mein Karren demonstrates the increasing emphasis by the artist on the formal and painterly aspects of his work, which would see its ultimate solution in the inverted pictures created after 1969.
Andreas Franzke charts the evolution of pictures such as Mein Karren: "At the time when Baselitz was painting the last of his "Heroes", he performed radical surgery in an almost literal sense. He began to cut his figures first in two, then into more than two horizontal sections, and to rearrange the sections with lateral displacements. This was the method that led to his "Fracture Paintings". In these, Baselitz set out in earnest to go to the extremes in violating conventional principles of pictorial construction. The representation is sliced into sections, and each of these acquires a formal autonomy that helps to define the overall effect, thereby detracting from the initial thematic idea." (in: Georg Baselitz, Andreas Franzke, Munich 1989, p.91)
The figure in Mein Karren, whilst bearing the bloated head of a "Hero", has been drawn and quartered, his body parts merged into the muddy landscape, and then reassembled like a magician's act gone disastrously wrong. Baselitz wanted his new cut-and-paste "Heroes" to be personifications of man's spiritual closeness to nature and this is emphasised in the figure's ruddy and muscular build, the miniature tractor by his foot, and in the predominance of earthy colours such as green and brown.
The title Mein Karren translates into English as cart or charriot and refers to the German proverb "Die Karre aus dem Dreck ziehen" ("To pull the cart from the mud"). The cart in this saying stands for the burden of human existence, which man has to carry with him. Against all odds he must drag himself from the mire of disaster and despair. This is the message of the "Hero" paintings, where the new man survives alone in a desolate landscape. In Mein Karren, Baselitz paints a literal image of this struggle. His figure, with downcast countenance, rides his childish scooter through a muddy wasteland.