An important retrospective of the work of Georg Baselitz is to be held at the Musée d’art Moderne until 5 January 1997.
Apart from an exhibition of his sculptures at Bordeaux in 1983, a show of engravings and sculpture two years later at the Bibliothèque Nationale, and regular shows at the gallery Laage-Salomon, his work is rarely seen in Paris.
Baselitz was born Georg Kern, in the village of Deutschbaselitz in Saxony in 1938, from where he took his pseudonym. He emigrated to west Berlin in 1957, becoming friendly with the prominent German neo-expressionist A.R.Penck and making a successful and profitable career for himself.
The exhibition follows a broadly chronological sweep, beginning with “Die grosse Nacht im Eimer” of 1962-63, which created a scandal at the time. It follows with his “fractured paintings”, painted at the end of the Seventies, when Baselitz worked and rearranged the figures and images to such a degree that they were almost impossible to read.
This experiment preceded and to an extent, announced, his return to the motif which was the mark of his oeuvre. The exhibition also presents some of his larger works such as “45” and several sculptures dating from the Eighties.
Baselitz, in common with a number of other artists, has written about his work. But his writings are not analytical or explanatory and it is necessary to read between the lines to make sense of his cryptic meaning. His fundamental meaning is how it is possible as an artist working today to avoid the traps set by history or society for the artist.
An anthology of extracts of his writings is published in the catalogue accompanying the exhibition.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Georg Baselitz in retrospective'