b. Germany 1938
Counting among his influences Art Brut, Art Informel, and Abstract Expressionism, as well as artists Edvard Munch and Wassily Kandinsky, German artist Georg Baselitz’s work is characterized by expressionistic mark-making and unrefined, even grotesque, figurative depiction. Working in painting, drawing, printmaking, and monumental wood sculpture, Baselitz often addresses issues related to German national identity post- World War II, particularly the role of German artists. Along with Anselm Kiefer, Baselitz was chosen to represent Germany at the 1980 Venice Biennale, exhibiting a monumental wooden sculptural figure that appeared to be making a Nazi salute, causing an eruption of controversy and bringing the question of contemporary German identity to the fore. Baselitz is closely associated with fellow artists A.R. Penck and Eugen Schöenbeck, who demonstrate similar stylistic tendencies and emphasis on subject matter rather than strict abstraction.
In 2015 Baselitz’s Avignon paintings—a suite of eight towering nude self-portraits— were featured in the Biennale di Venezia. The following year related self-portraits with spectral figures were presented at Gagosian, West 21st Street, New York. In 2017–18 a large retrospective of Baselitz’s work was presented at the Fondation Beyeler, Riehen, Switzerland, and at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC.