Georg Baselitz. (Reviews: New York)

Article excerpt


Fracture, distortion, murky handling of paint-these have long been the mainstays of Georg Baselitz's art, as this exhibition of his early drawings and paintings indicated. On display were works made during the '60s, when Baselitz was in headlong rebellion against the School of Paris, which seemed to have reached a dead end in a tachism that had become decorative, and the School of New York, which was witnessing the birth of Pop and Minimalism. At the time, making an "art of the insane" and coming into one's own through "pandemonium," to refer to the title of Baselitz's 1961 manifesto, was not only to announce one's alienation from postwar Germany but to return to the roots of art in the unconscious. It was to be hot at a time when cool was in, to indulge authenticity and overstatement when understatement and irony were fashionable.

Baselitz insisted, then as he does now, that he was making a "new image" that escaped "interpretations or associations." This is patent nonsense, considering that so many images here were grotesque renderings of the human body with a particular emphasis on its sexual parts. His gesturalism owes an enormous debt to Lovis Corinth and Chaim Soutine--ostensibly minor artists who made surface much more painterly, and thus more intense, than it had hitherto been. And many of Baselitz's fantasies tap into social cliches. Whipping Woman, 1964, illustrates an aggressively demeaning view of woman as mindless body--all bloated belly and breasts, topped by a tiny head. Baselitz's Untitled (new man), a 1965 drawing, depicts a figure that is isolated and abandoned, but the artist still conveys a traditional belief in male dominance and authority. …


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