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The exhibition featuring Georg Baselitz, one of the most famous and sought-after contemporary German artists, will open on 1 April 2017. The show, staged by the Museum of Fine Arts – Hungarian National Gallery in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut in Budapest, will comprise more than eighty works selected from international and Hungarian public and private collections, while eight lesser-known large-format paintings and a sculpture will arrive directly from the artist’s studio. The exhibition titled Preview with Review will display the early works from the 1960s alongside many masterpieces from Remix, a series started in 2005. The characteristic Baselitz heads and figures originating from the 1980s will be shown next to those in his paintings, prints and monumental sculptures from the last few years.
“All that which lies behind the painter also lies before him.” (Georg Baselitz)
Georg Baselitz, a painter, sculptor and printmaker, was born in 1938 in Deutschbaselitz, near Dresden. In 1957 he left what was then East Germany to permanently settle in West Germany. As one of today’s most popular and sought-after German artists, he had retrospectives and other large-scale shows in prominent museums such as the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the Haus der Kunst in Munich and, most recently, the Städel Museum in Frankfurt, and a special section was displayed at the 2015 Venice Biennale to pay tribute to his œuvre. At the same time, Baselitz, who now enjoys major international acclaim, was relatively unknown in the first twenty years of his career. His works were included in larger scale international exhibitions only from the 1970s and 1980s onwards; for example, at the documenta in Kassel in 1972 and 1982, at the São Paulo Biennale in 1975, and the Venice Biennale in 1980, and at the legendary exhibition titled A New Spirit in Painting at the Royal Academy, London, in 1981. Following this, his works were exhibited at two pioneering shows, now remembered as legendary, which provided an overview of post-World War II trends in Western art, namely the Westkunst in Cologne in 1981, andthe Zeitgeist in Berlin in 1982.
For more than fifty years, continuous renewal and critical (self-)reflection have been at the centre of Georg Baselitz’s rich œuvre, comprising, according to the artist himself, more than 2,500 paintings, and a significant body of sculptures, drawings and prints. The approach to his own past and passing time serve as the backbone of the Budapest exhibition, too. Day after day, Baselitz reviews, recreates and replays particular segments of his past. He does not wish to safely deposit the pictures of his memories and his self-image in glass cases, but rather to pick them up again and again, removing them from their original historical context and period. He brings past details into the present, and adapts them to the new place and time, thus creating a new tradition and a ‘new past’. Day in and day out, he inimitably repeats the past.
Questioning the European tradition based on figural representation and conveying messages in art, Baselitz arrived at a turning point in his career in 1969. From this time onwards, he turned the motives in his pictures upside down, which became his trademark. In the struggle that lasted decades between figurative and abstract painting, Baselitz chose to follow a third path, one of his very own: his chief artistic objective is to continuously examine the potentials and framework of painting. His radical views about art and his dramatic, perpetually renewing palette and forms have made Baselitz one of the most innovative and autonomous figures of the post-World War II fine art scene.
The Budapest exhibition is made special by the fact that it is the first large-scale show not only in Hungary but in all Central Eastern Europe that presents Baselitz’s art comprehensively, including all the time dimensions of his œuvre. A documentary will also be screened to familiarise visitors with the German artist’s painting methods and his ars poetica.
The exhibition was realised in close-cooperation with Georg Baselitz himself.
Baselitz. Preview with Review is the third part of the Museum of Fine Arts – Hungarian National Gallery’s exhibition series “Classical Contemporary German Fine Art”, which was launched in 2012 with Material Becomes Picture, presenting Günther Uecker’s art, and was followed in 2014 by Long Live Painting! featuring Jörg Immendorff. The shows, organised every two to three years, are designed to acquaint the Hungarian public with the various trends in post-World War (West) German fine art through solo exhibitions showcasing a defining phenomenon or a leading art trend. The show devoted to the politically active Jörg Immendorff, who holds up a mirror to us and regards art as a means of shaping society, provided a counterpoint to Günther Uecker’s meditative and material art responding to primary human sensations and values. Compared with the œuvres drawing on abstract art (Uecker) and narrative painting (Immendorff), Georg Baselitz is distinguished by a fundamentally different artistic approach, which, however, is also exclusively rooted in the German tradition.
Curators: Art historians Kinga Bódi (Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest) and Alexander Tolnay
Cooperative partner: Goethe-Institut in Budapest