Contemporary Curated

Contemporary Curated

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 95. GEORG BASELITZ | SONGS IN THE SUITCASE (LIEDER IM KOFFER).

GEORG BASELITZ | SONGS IN THE SUITCASE (LIEDER IM KOFFER)

Auction Closed

November 19, 12:29 PM GMT

Estimate

100,000 - 150,000 GBP

Lot Details

Description

GEORG BASELITZ

b. 1938

SONGS IN THE SUITCASE (LIEDER IM KOFFER)


signed, titled and dated 24.II.015 on the reverse

oil on canvas

120 by 90 cm. 47¼ by 35½ in.

White Cube, London

Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2015

‘I apply the principles of disharmony, of imbalance, of destruction. And the misfortune, the really great misfortune, is that harmony ensues time and again’ Georg Baselitz in conversation with Heinz Peter Schwerfel, cited in: Georg Baselitz: Collected Writings and Interviews, London 2010, p. 148.


Four disembodied legs unfurl on the rapidly rendered and gesturally painted canvas in a visual language that is at once raw, frivolous and expressionistic. With an inimitable sense of movement and velocity Georg Baselitz’s Songs in the Suitcase (Lieder im Koffer) centres on an ingeniously cacophonous motif that epitomises the artist’s mischievous character and forms a recurring theme in his exceptional oeuvre. With his highly original and impactful oeuvre, Baselitz earned a position as one of the foremost artists of the post-war period.


Executed in 2015 for the occasion of an exhibition curated by London’s White Cube gallery to accompany the Glyndebourne Opera Festival, Baselitz created a series of twelve paintings, centres on the image of legs in stiletto heels. An important early motif and the dominant element in this series, the leg has been a leitmotiv in Baselitz's work since the 1960s. Initially inspired by Théodore Géricault’s dark studies of limbs and Alberto Giacometti’s bronze The Leg, the Glyndebourne series can be seen as a captivating culmination of an obsessive preoccupation with this dissonant and mutable subject. The decision to make feet a central figurative element in his practice was prompted by the artist’s disgust for the subject matter and the contradictory desire to "choose something disagreeable" (Georg Baselitz cited in: Rainer Michael Mason, 'Pied a' Tierre', Galerie Catherine Putman, 2017, n.p.). This initial impulse progressively evolved during the artist’s six-decade-long career. "Feet are my earth wire,” Baselitz notes, “For me the earth connection is more important than the transmission. For me the reception via an earth wire is much better than through an antenna – perhaps I've got more in common with the trolls than the angels, who knows? Funnily enough, I also paint crouched down; I walk across the paintings" (Georg Baselitz cited in: Poul Erik Tojner, ‘Georg Baselitz. Painter’, in: Exh. Cat., Humlebaek, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Baselitz, 2006, p.31).


The ebb and flow between abstraction and figuration that shaped the artist’s formative years still lingers in Songs in the Suitcase (Lieder im Koffer). On a pale, monochromatic ground the detached anatomical fragments playfully rotate clockwise and counter-clockwise, as if spinning from their juncture at the centre of the painting’s surface. Legs whirling like an incongruous wheel at jarring speed, the rapid brushwork and haphazard strokes of paint are an assault on the white canvas and generate a violent ungainliness which is characteristic of Baselitz’s most intense work. Rendered in oil paint thinned to a watercolour-like consistency and executed with brushes and sticks, the wild, frantic dance is aided by an unparalleled speed of execution, so crucial to the artist’s practice. The artist’s treatment of the legs can be traced to his early Pandemonic Feet series, yet the kicking limbs in Songs in the Suitcase (Lieder im Koffer) render the subject matter in a markedly more upbeat style.


A dexterous reimagination of a motif that reoccurs throughout the artist’s ouput, Songs in the Suitcase (Lieder im Koffer) channels a frenetic vitality that fills the canvas with an inventive and continually intriguing composition. The present work bears witness to Baselitz’s idiosyncratic fusion of expressionistic sensibility and figurative painting, demonstrating the artist’s timeless appeal at every glance.