Georg Baselitz‘ workgroup of “Heroes” and “New Types” is regarded as a key achievement of 1960s German art all over the world. In the eponymous exhibition that’s just been opened at Staedel Museum Frankfurt am Main – curated by Staedel’s Director Max Hollein – these paintings are being shown on a large scale for the first time. Some seventy paintings and works on paper are on view: their aggressively and defiantly painted monumental figures have lost nothing of their ambiguous, portentous and vulnerable quality to this day.
“Georg Baselitz. The Heroes” is as impressive as it is powerful in its visual impact. It represents a comprehensive monographic grand tour – fifty years after the paintings’ making paying homage to one of the most influential painters and sculptors of our time. Those „heroic“ figures are actually raddled soldiers, resigned painters, marked by their latent failure as well as by their uncertain future. The fragility and contradictory nature of the “Heroes” in terms of contents find their formal equivalent. The consistently frontal depiction and central placement of the clearly outlined figures contrast with the wildness of the artist’s palette and the vehemence of his painting style.
The colossal protagonists of the show with their extremely small heads are staggering or, sometimes clumsily, seem to stalk through the pictorial space. In accordance with their maltreated bodies, their bleak surroundings suggest devastation: houses on fire, trees stripped of their leaves, thrown-up mounds of earth.
The vagrant “Heroes” are furnished with a repertoire of recurring objects they carry with them: field packs, palettes and brushes or instruments of torture. Despite the repetitive format of 162 × 130 centimeters, each of the works strikes us with an expression all of its own, which strongly depends on the chosen method of painting and the colors employed. The loose chronological sequence of works in the presentation testifies to Baselitz’s gradual breaking away from his motif. It is only a short way from there to his later inversion of the subject.
“The ‘Heroes’ are both a landmark and a fervent pivot in Georg Baselitz’s oeuvre. They have sprung from a deep, inner necessity in a deliberate confrontation with pressing, charged subjects and unfold a timeless reflection on the artist’s existence as such. Giving expression to strikingly visualized and self-felt isolation, uprooting, and lack of orientation, the works render the artist’s precarious state of experience in a broken world, establishing a paradigmatic image of his condition”, says Max Hollein, curator of the Show.
ART & DESIGN FAIRS
ART BASEL 13 JUN/ 16 JUN
FRIEZE LONDON 03 OCT/ 06 OCT
FIAC PARIS17 OCT/ 20 OCT
PARIS PHOTO 07 NOV/ 10 NOV
SCOPE MIAMI 03 DEC/ 08 DEC
DESIGN MIAMI 04 DEC/ 08 DEC
ART BASEL MIAMI 05 DEC/ 08 DEC