Details & Cataloguing

Shake It Up: Works from the Mario Testino Collection - Afternoon Sale


Georg Baselitz
B. 1938
signed, titled and dated 25.V.07 on the reverse
oil on canvas
300 by 250 cm. 118 by 98 1/2 in.
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Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin

Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2008


Berlin, Contemporary Fine Arts, Georg Baselitz: 23 January 1938, January - March 2008, p. 2, illustrated in colour 

Catalogue Note

Part of Baselitz’s acclaimed Remix series that begun in the mid-to-late 2000’s, Der Absprung takes up the challenge of reworking seminal paintings from his earlier bodies of work. Described by the art critic Sir Norman Rosenthal as “flashes of memory of a distant past”, they are personal reflections on his oeuvre as well as an opportunity to reassess the history they deal with (Norman Rosenthal, ‘Upside-down world’, The Guardian, 22 September 2007, online). Employed here in Der Absprung, one of his most powerful strategies within this body of work is to take up previous motifs within paintings and isolate them, in turn revitalising their ability to provoke while memorialising them at the same time. In Der Absprung, Baselitz has choosen Hitler. Indeed, Hitler, and his re-identification, is one of most important themes of the series. As Baselitz notes “in some places the painting is like a caricature – but O I’ve got Hitler better than most. When I made it [his earlier works] people kept saying to me, but it’s you! But I had the Third Reich in mind, Germany’s past. And now I’ve turned the painting more in that direction, now you can see Adolf that much better” (Carla Schulz-Hoffmann ‘George Baselitz – Non-Conformist on Principle’, in: Exh. Cat., London, Royal Academy of Arts, George Baselitz, 2007, p. 37).

In Der Absprung, caricature sits at the heart of the work. The thick imposing impasto of his earlier work is given up in favour of a lighter, more comical rendering as Baselitz’s thin oil resembles watercolour. With his arms raised, and infantile skin tone, Hitler now resembles a petulant child. The weight of history is lifted, Hitler becomes more a memory, an apparition of what he once was. Though he has reaffirmed Hitler’s physical identity, Baselitz has robbed him of his symbolic power. Hitler has become little more than Baselitz’s artistic puppet. By drawing from his own work, Baselitz recasts his referential system both backwards and internally, moving further away from the history he questions and further into concept of his own artistic process. He questions the basis of picture making, the nature of motif and the semiotic value of symbols by re-appropriating what was already his. In this profoundly post-modern framework, the artist is now influenced only by himself.

 Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Remix series was created by Baselitz as a form of artistic grievance. They are an endnote to a chapter in his life, a form of closure. Like with much of Baselitz’s work, which is deeply rooted in his personal identity and experience, these works respond to the impending whirlwind of change Baselitz and his wife, Elke, experienced whilst moving from their home of thirty years in Derneburg to Southern Germany. Produced over the course of this move, the series self-reflectively closes the circle on his earlier body of work in order to realise the chance to permanently begin anew.

Shake It Up: Works from the Mario Testino Collection - Afternoon Sale