Georg Baselitz, Tate Modern

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Sunday to Thursday, 10am to 6pm
Friday and Saturday, 10am to 10pm


United Kingdom


This two-room display presents figurative works in a range of media by the German artist Georg Baselitz.

This display includes works that belong to a collection of international contemporary art jointly owned by Tate and National Galleries of Scotland. It is known as ARTISTROOMS and focuses on individual rooms devoted to particular artists.

One of the foremost German artists who came to prominence in the 1960s, Baselitz has been concerned with ways to invest renewed significance in the human figure. Born just before the Second World War, he grew up in Communist East Germany and studied in academies on both sides of Berlin before settling in the West. In choosing to engage with a painterly and figurative tradition, he rejected the prevalent trend towards abstraction, but was also careful to avoid an imitative realism tainted by its association with totalitarian propaganda.

In the mid-1960s, Baselitz began to depict what he called ‘new types’ of lone male figures, including series of ‘Rebels’ and ‘Heroes’. Vigorously painted in ways that echo early expressionism, these figures assumed a monumental stature, yet Baselitz wanted to discourage easy judgements about what they represented. In 1969 he took the remarkable step of turning his figures upside-down, unsettling the viewer and allowing the paintings to be seen as almost abstract works.

Throughout his career, Baselitz has absorbed and confronted aspects of German history, capturing uncertainties and anxieties that permeate European culture more widely. 

Georg Baselitz was born in 1938 as Hans-Georg Kern. He took the name Baselitz from his birthplace of Grossbaselitz, a village in Saxony, eastern Germany. He lives and works in Basel, Switzerland, at lake Ammersee, Germany, and in Imperia, Italy.

Curated by Matthew Gale.

  • Gallery

    • Painting
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