inscribed X. 93 on the backside
"I'm not [the kind of artist] who goes with the flow, joins a group, follows the latest trend..." – Georg Baselitz, 2007
Since the late 1970s, Georg Baselitz has maintained a preoccupation with the sculpted figure. An early carved work, Model for a Sculpture (1979), brought the artist to international attention upon its display at the 1980 Venice Biennale, where the figure's raised right arm was misinterpreted as a fascist salute. Perhaps best known as a painter, the artist's recourse to sculpture followed a pursuit of a medium that was, in his words, 'more primitive and brutal'. Indeed, Baselitz achieves a formal impact in sculpture which is owed, in part, to his interest in African sculpture, his awareness of which is demonstrated by the vigorously carved surface and richly colored forms. The association with tribal art aligns Baselitz with Gauguin and Picasso, who drew inspiration from non-western sources, as well as a wider Modernist engagement with so-called 'Primitivism'.
The centre-piece of the 1997 exhibition in Salzburg, Torso Rosa forms part of a striking group of truncated torsos, executed in the early 1990s. Each work from the series is derived from a single trunk of a tree, into which Baselitz carves a human form, preserving the massy, volumetric qualities of the natural material. The energy of the artist's process is revealed by the pronounced incisions and aggressively hatched surface. A sense of violent passion is conveyed by the intense red pigment that covers parts of the anatomy. As such, Torso Rosa exemplifies how sculpture forms a crucial part of Baselitz's oeuvre, and has allowed him to explore and his interest in the figure, combined with painterly abstraction.
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