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Georg Baselitz


Georg Baselitz is a German painter, sculptor, and graphic artist renowned for his distinctive and thought-provoking works. Throughout his career, he has been a leading figure in the art world, challenging traditional conventions and sparking curiosity among viewers. 

Let's delve into the life and artistic journey of this remarkable artist.

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Name: Georg

Surname: Baselitz

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Georg Baselitz BIOGRAPHY

Georg Baselitz
Image Credit: MoMA

Early Life

Georg Baselitz, originally named Hans-Georg Kern, was born on January 23, 1938, in Deutschbaselitz, a small town in Upper Lusatia, Germany. His early life was deeply affected by the aftermath of World War II, as he grew up amidst the suffering and devastation caused by the war. 

The concept of destruction and the shattered world around him played a significant role in shaping his life and artistic expression.

In an interview, Baselitz reflected on his biographical circumstances, stating, “I was born into a destroyed order, a destroyed landscape, a destroyed people, a destroyed society. And I didn’t want to reestablish an order: I had seen enough of so-called order. I was forced to question everything, to be ‘naive,’ to start again.” 

These profound experiences compelled him to challenge established norms and conventions, becoming the guiding principles of his art.

Baselitz’s unique perspective on the world, shaped by his early life experiences, led him to develop a remarkable artistic approach.

Family and Later Life:

In recent years, Baselitz and his wife have resided in Salzburg, Austria, and even obtained Austrian citizenship in 2015. Despite his age, Georg Baselitz remains an active and thought-provoking artist, continuously exploring new themes and expressing his unique perspective through his art. 

His works continue to challenge conventions and inspire audiences worldwide.

What is Georg Baselit known for?

Georg Baselitz
Image Credit: MoMA

Georg Baselitz is a German painter, sculptor, and graphic artist known for defining features of his work is his practice of inverting all his paintings, turning them upside down. This unconventional technique disrupts traditional perceptions and invites viewers to engage with his art on a deeper, more contemplative level.

Career highlights

Georg Baselitz
Image Credit: MoMA

As a young boy, Baselitz attended the local school in Kamenz, where he was exposed to art and culture. The assembly hall featured a reproduction of Louis-Ferdinand von Rayski’s painting, “Wermsdorfer Wald,” which left a lasting impression on the budding artist. 

Rayski’s grasp of Realism influenced Baselitz and later inspired him to develop his unique artistic language.

At 15, Baselitz had already begun exploring various artistic styles, ranging from portraits and religious subjects to still lifes and landscapes, some even reflecting a futuristic aesthetic.

In 1955, he applied to study at the prestigious Kunstakademie in Dresden but faced rejection. Undeterred, Baselitz pursued his passion and enrolled successfully at the Hochschule für Bildende und Angewandte Kunst in East Berlin in 1956. There, he studied under professors Walter Womacka and Herbert Behrens-Hangler and formed friendships with fellow artists like Peter Graf and Ralf Winkler, who later became known as A. R. Penck.

However, his rebellious nature and non-conformity with the socialist ideals of the DDR led to his expulsion for “sociopolitical immaturity” after two semesters.

Baselitz’s journey continued as he resumed his studies at the Hochschule der Künste in West Berlin in 1957. 

In 1961, Baselitz attended Hann Trier’s master class, a creatively charged environment dominated by the gestural abstraction of Tachism and Art Informel. He completed his studies the following year, adopting the name “Georg Baselitz” as a tribute to his hometown.

Throughout his life, Baselitz experienced both triumphs and challenges in his career. He faced controversy when two of his paintings were seized due to their lewd content, sparking a public scandal. However, he persevered, becoming a prolific artist with significant exhibitions across Germany and beyond. 

His work drew inspiration from writers and artists like Antonin Artaud, Samuel Beckett, Edvard Munch, and Die Brücke expressionist group.

Georg Baselitz List of Work

Georg Baselitz
Image Credit: MoMA


  • Baselitz began producing his first original works, including the Rayski-Head series and G. Head painting.
  • His first solo exhibition in West Berlin at Galerie Werner & Katz caused a scandal, resulting in a court case that lasted until October 1965.
  • Baselitz spent the spring of 1964 at Schloß Wolfsburg, where he produced his first etchings.
  • In 1965-1966, he created the series of Heroes (Helden), featuring figures with a metaphorical image of man discarding the ideals of the Third Reich and East Germany.
  • Baselitz explored inversion in paintings, using Louis-Ferdinand von Rayski’s Wermsdorf Woods as a model for his first picture with an inverted motif, The Wood On Its Head (1969).


  • Baselitz exhibited regularly at Galerie Heiner Friedrich in Munich during the 1970s.
  • In 1970, Kunstmuseum Basel staged the first retrospective of his drawings and graphic works.
  • In 1971, the Baselitz family moved to Forst an der Weinstraße, where he started painting bird motifs.
  • Baselitz participated in the 1972 Documenta 5 in Kassel, generating harsh criticism.
  • He began using fingerpainting techniques and continued painting landscapes until 1975.


  • Baselitz rented a studio in Florence from 1976 to 1981 and began working on large-format linocuts.
  • He became a professor at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Karlsruhe in 1978.
  • Baselitz worked on diptychs, multipart pictures, and large-format individual works, including sculptures like The Gleaner (1980).


  • Baselitz set up an additional study in Castiglion Florentino in 1981, devoting more time to sculpture.
  • He started using Christian motifs in his artwork, completing the major composition Dinner in Dresden (1983).
  • Baselitz received the Goslarer Kaiserring in 1986 and continued exhibiting frequently in Germany.
  • In 1989, he was awarded Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by French Minister of Arts Jack Lang.


  • Baselitz’s first significant exhibition in East Germany was staged at the Nationalgalerie im Alten Museum in Berlin in 1990.
  • He resigned from the Akademie der Künste in Berlin in 1992.
  • In 1995, the first major retrospective of Baselitz’s work in the US was staged at the Guggenheim in New York City.
  • Throughout the 1990s, his work was exhibited frequently in Europe.
  • A retrospective of Baselitz’s work was shown in the Art Gallery of Yapı Kredi Bank in Istanbul in 2002.

Since 2014- Present

  • Baselitz continued to work and live in various locations, including Hildesheim, Munich, and Imperia.
  • Several retrospectives were held in his honor in 2018, including exhibitions at Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich and Fondation Beyeler in Basel.
  • In 2019, an exhibition titled “Devotion” showcased paintings and works on paper by Baselitz inspired by self-portraits of artists he admires.
  • A retrospective curated by Kosme de Barañano was held at the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice in 2019, coinciding with the Venice Biennale.
  • A major retrospective opened at the Centre Pompidou in October 2021, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints.

Recognition and Awards

Baselitz received numerous honors and awards throughout his career, including the Goslarer Kaiserring and the Praemium Imperiale. He was also recognized by prestigious institutions like the Royal Academy of Arts in London and the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts.

However, Baselitz’s career wasn’t without controversy. His disparaging remarks about women artists led to accusations of sexism and reinforcing gender bias in the art world. 

Legacy and Ongoing Creativity

Georg Baselitz remains an active artist, highly critical of German politics, and devoted to his craft. Even in his later years, he continues to create thought-provoking works, exploring themes of mortality and aging in his introspective portraits.

In celebration of his 80th birthday, several retrospectives were held in Baselitz’s honor, showcasing his six-decade artistic journey. His works were exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide, solidifying his legacy as one of the most influential and controversial artists of his time.

Famous Artwork by Georg Baselitz

Title: Orangenesser (IX), 1981

Topsy-turvy … Orangenesser (IX), 1981. Photograph: © Georg Baselitz 2022; photo: Friedrich Rosenstiel, Köln

What could a NFT Story of Georg Baselitz sound like?

Idea: “The Baselitz Legacy” – An Emotional NFT Exploration

“The Baselitz Legacy” is a groundbreaking NFT (Non-Fungible Token) project that delves into the life and art of the renowned German artist, Georg Baselitz. Through a series of unique NFTs, this immersive experience aims to captivate art enthusiasts and digital collectors alike.

At the heart of the project is a virtual gallery featuring Baselitz’s masterpieces transformed into mesmerizing NFTs. Each artwork is presented in the artist’s iconic upside-down style, encouraging viewers to engage with emotions and raw intensity rather than the familiar subjects.

The journey begins by exploring Baselitz’s early life as Hans-Georg Kern, growing up in the aftermath of World War II in Germany. Learn how these formative experiences shaped his artistic vision and the decision to adopt the name “Baselitz” as a symbol of transformation and rebellion.

A pivotal moment in Baselitz’s career comes to life through an NFT that captures the controversy surrounding his debut piece, “Die Grosse Nacht im Eimer.” Witness the emotional impact this moment had on the artist and how it sparked a lifelong exploration of identity and artistic expression.

Throughout the NFT exploration, participants will discover Baselitz’s profound engagement with German history. Each NFT reflects the traumas of war and the complexities of a divided nation, inviting viewers to confront these emotions head-on in an unconventional manner.

The innovative “upside-down” technique takes center stage, providing an interactive element to the NFTs. Users can flip the artworks, gaining a fresh perspective on the emotional depth that lies within each piece.

Beyond paintings, the project delves into Baselitz’s sculptures, offering animated NFTs that bring these captivating forms to life. Witness fragmented figures and distorted forms that encapsulate the essence of the human condition, sparking new conversations about art’s ability to evoke emotions.

As “The Baselitz Legacy” unfolds, it doesn’t merely celebrate the artist’s past but also highlights his enduring influence on contemporary art. The NFT collection will culminate in an exclusive auction featuring limited-edition digital collectibles inspired by Baselitz’s masterpieces.

By experiencing “The Baselitz Legacy” NFT collection, viewers and collectors will gain a deeper appreciation for Georg Baselitz’s significant impact on the art world. The emotional journey and thought-provoking NFTs allow participants to preserve his artistic legacy, ensuring that his transformative work continues to inspire and challenge generations to come.

What could a NFT collection of Georg Baselitz look like?

More about Georg Baselitz

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