Georg Baselitz, born in 1938, is one of the most famous German contemporary painters. The collections of the Albertina
contain around 120 paintings, watercolours, print graphics and drawings of the artist, which are being presented almost in their entirety on the occasion of his 75th birthday. The exhibit focuses on the last ten years, especially on the Remix group from 2005/06. In this extensive cycle, Georg Baselitz, in the 1960s a pioneer of neoexpressive, figurative painting, once again considers his early, long since legendary pictorial inventions, reinterprets and restages them. Familiar motifs such as the Helden (heroes) , Orangenesser (orange eaters) , Eltern (parents) or Bäume (trees) create a new context for the history of art of the 20th century, and especially for the continuing process of coming to terms with the post-war period in Germany, through their visual repetition or "appropriation".
The continuous researching of pictorial possibilities and the search for the "new" painting pervades Georg Baselitz' entire artistic repertoire, which is characterised by ruptures and turnarounds. His early work is defined by an aggressive anti-posture, which resulted in paintings like "Die große Nacht im Eimer" (The big night in the bucket) (1962/63) and the development of the "Helden" (heroes) or "Neuen Typen" (new types) (1966).
After 1968, Baselitz' search leads to the reversal of motifs. This becomes his trademark. By placing the pictorial subject on its head, Georg Baselitz wrote himself into the art history of the 20th century. He himself describes this process as the "best way to liberate the painting from the content" and "to address painting in itself". With this process, which has often been described as a painting trick, Baselitz was able to position himself autonomously, apart from the extremes of abstraction and figuration.
In 2005 and 2006, Baselitz traces his own emotional and artistic posture toward his important early works. Large format paintings, drawings and watercolours enter into a dialogue with his own work and his own biography, which is characterised by gestural lightness and pictorial verve. In terms of their colour and pictorial effect, the new paintings convey that Baselitz has in the meantime developed a distanced relationship with many of his themes. In the process, the concept of the pictorial "Remix" is to be seen in a tradition also containing the painting series of Monet and Munch, which attempts to explore a theme step-by-step and in all its nuances through minimal changes in the choice of colour, perspective or pictorial expression.
The principle of reversal is not only applied to the motif, but also in an expanded form to the technique and to the chronological sequence of drawing and painting. Baselitz transforms aesthetic strategies of drawing and watercolour into monumental oil painting, and surprises in technical and stylistic terms with new pictorial concepts. In contrast to the early paintings characterised by severity, pathos and mixed colours, the paintings of the Remix are characterised by lightness, transparency and pure colours. In Baselitz late work, the drawing is not the precursor of the painting as a preliminary study or sketch, but is instead the graphic further development and modification of the archetype. The creative motivation of the artist is thereby not to be found in the interpretation of content, but instead in the endless technical, stylistic and formal variation.
The Albertina possesses works from the various career phases of the artist. Many of the works were acquired under the directorship of Klaus Albrecht Schröder, who in the meantime enjoys a close friendship with Georg Baselitz on the basis of mutual respect, or have found their way into the collection as endowments and permanent loans. The 75th birthday of the artist is now being taken as the occasion to take stock of his work in the Albertina. Parallel to the Baselitz solo exhibition, an exhibit of colour woodcuts of the Renaissance, which will be on display as of 29 November 2013, also provides insight into the private collection of the artist.