In 1980, Georg Baselitz was asked to represent Germany at the Venice Biennale, along with Anselm Kiefer. In doing so, he started to explore sculpture in addition to his painted works. Roughly-hewn timber, influenced by German folk art and native African carvings marked a new departure and no review of his work of the 1980’s would be complete without some of his sculptures and, indeed, just one sculpture in a room, the walls of which are filled with his paintings of the same period, makes a huge difference, contrasting and complementing his other work.
Baselitz celebrates his 80th birthday this year and the Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac is celebrating the event with an exhibition in London of his work from the 1980’s, a seminal decade which, following the Venice Biennale, saw him develop his style and consolidate his reputation as one of Germany’s great modern artists, alongside Anselm Kiefer and Joseph Beuys, with the three of them coming together for a reunion in the Project Room at the Gallery.
Baselitz’s paintings are challenging, especially with many of them appearing upside down. If he had been born a decade earlier, there is no doubt that his work would have been condemned by the Nazis, but that ten years’ difference allowed him remarkable freedom to find his own voice and expression. The exhibition brings together works from several series he developed during the 1980’s, many of which have never been seen in the UK before. Also on show are his drawings which, in contrast, appear remarkably refined, throwing caution to the winds with a precision that contrasts with his paintings.
A stunning exhibition that should not be missed.