Georg Baselitz A Focus on the 1980s
2 October – 21 November 2018
In 2018, as Georg Baselitz celebrated his 80th birthday. Thaddaeus Ropac London presented the first exhibition to focus solely on his work from the 1980s - the decade that saw the artist propelled to international fame, garner widespread critical acclaim and, at times, scandalise the art world. Through paintings, sculptures and works on paper, Georg Baselitz: A Focus on the 1980s traced the artist’s shift towards a freer, more expressionist application of paint and use of colour, which resulted in works of astonishing vigour and formal power.
The exhibition presented seminal works from each of the series Baselitz developed during this decade – his Strandbilder [Beach Pictures], Orangenesser [Orange Eaters] and Trinker [Drinkers] - including works that have toured internationally but are yet to be exhibited in the UK, and those that will be shown for the first time since created in the 1980s. The survey of this pivotal decade provided a focus on both the breakthroughs of Baselitz’s painterly techniques and the sources from which his later series of works stem. His works on paper included in the exhibition represented a parallel strand to his paintings, demonstrating the development of his personal iconography across media. In contrast to his painting technique of layering wet pigments on the canvas, the decisive graphic lines and strong contours of Baselitz’s drawings shared a close affinity with his sculptures. Both show direct traces of the artist’s hand, whether as strokes of graphite and ink on paper or the marks of chisel, axe and chainsaw used to carve his sculptures from a single block of wood. Baselitz’s first sculpture was shown at the Venice Biennale in 1980, and the wood carvings included this exhibition are some of his earliest, such as the totemic standing form that prefigures his more recent self-portraits.