Georg Baselitz, Return to the Origins Richard Leydier's review of the German artist's work dedicated to his retrospective at the Centre Pompidou
By Richard Leydier
I have often wondered why the paintings exhibited by Georg Baselitz in 1963 at the Werner & Katz Gallery (Berlin) so strongly resembled, in anticipation, those that the American Philip Guston would produce from 1969 onwards. Baselitz/Guston, on the model of Soutine/de Kooning, is an exhibition that must be organised one day. Someone will have to take on this exciting task.
Guston had probably never heard of Baselitz's paintings, nor of the scandal caused in Germany by that exhibition, which followed two years after the Pandemonic Manifesta that the young German painter wrote with Eugen Schiinebeck. The paintings Guston produced during the last ten years of his life synthesise his work through a return to the comic strips of his childhood, as well as classical Renaissance art seen through this prism of popular culture. One might say "simplified, reduced to the extreme by it''. The young Baselitz, on the other hand, looked at informal art and abstract expressionism, Antonin Artaud and outsider artists. I remember attending the dinner given for his 70th birthday. Before an audience of very distinguished museum curators from all over the world, he spoke about his first trip to Paris and his discovery of Fred Deux's work, which most of the guests had probably never seen. I took this to be a purely punk gesture: Baselitz, at the height of his career, was speaking, not about his own career, but to affirm how much the work of an artist of lesser renown had meant to him. (...)