A Raging Bull Who Lost His Punch; Twisting German Icons: Georg Baselitz's 1965 Work Mit Roter Fahne (with a Red Flag)

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Byline: BEN LEWIS

Royal Academy .

NO MOVEMENT in art has expressed the angst of history better than the GermanNeo-Expressionists, the post-war movement that specialised in visceral,impassioned oil painting.

And no Neo-Expressionist expressed more angst in his work than Georg Baselitz,who became famous for painting the icons of German historyeagles, soldiers and forests upside-down.

As this exhibitiona first retrospective for the artist in this countryquickly reveals, the inverted canvas was just one of the ways Baselitz paintedpain.

A serious student of Goya, Antonin Artaud and of outsider art, Baselitz's firstimportant series of works from the early Sixties depicted vulnerable humanfigures, or parts thereof, set against a dark background in a thickly-applied,oily palette of red and brown.

Titles like Sex with Dumplings suggest the sensations of psychologicalperversion and torment with which these paintings overwhelm the viewer..

Over the following two decades, Baselitz continued to develop, makingpaintings, woodcuts and sculptures. There were stark biblical images ofsoldiers and shepherds; then came fragmented pictures of men with dogs androughly hewn, crudely painted wooden sculptures of human figures, which lookedlike the totems of a lost tribe. …