Catalogue entry

P07780 Head 1982

from the series ‘Sixteen Red and Black Woodcuts’ 1981–2
Woodcut 25 5/8×19 3/4 (651 × 502) on offset paper 33 7/8×24 1/8 (859 × 611), printed and published by the artist in an edition of 15
Inscribed ‘Baselitz 82’ b.r.
Purchased from Waddington Galleries (Grant-in-Aid) 1982
Repr: Siegfried Gohr, Georg Baselitz - Druckgraphik 1963–83, Munich, 1984, p.152

P07779 and P07780, from the series ‘Sixteen Red and Black Woodcuts’, are inverted images of an eagle and a head respectively. The eagle is an image found in a number of Baselitz's paintings from 1971 onwards. P07780 is the first in the series and is printed in both red and black together; all the other prints in the series were printed in single tones, in the case of P07779 five in brown and red-brown and twelve in black. P07779 is a black version. Both P07780 and P07779 have been printed from two blocks. Baselitz has stated that he used red and black because they are traditional to the medium. In place of ink he has employed oil paint which when passed through the press causes the oil to bleed and to discolour the raised areas on the block. The use of red and black together in P07780 was intended to create ‘a doughy surface’ in this area ‘up to the white splintered contour’. As with all Baselitz's work since 1969 the images have been inverted so as to render insignificant a literal interpretation of the image in the quest for pure art. Accordingly the images have no symbolic meaning for the artist. Thus while a line may describe an image it is primarily emancipated from its descriptive role and becomes detached from the printed background.

Lately Baselitz has been making woodcuts and linocuts more than etchings. In an interview with Rainer Michael Mason (Georg Baselitz, Gravures 1963–83, exhibition catalogue, Cabinet des Estampes, Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Geneva, June–September 1984, p.xxvi) Baselitz stated...

When you are making etchings, working on copper or zinc plates, a certain concentration is demanded, a certain isolation, almost singularity. One is a strange man when one scratches into these metal plates, and sometimes I am scared. I sought then to turn towards a more open object, to take a more open material. And, quite simply, to treat it generously, which etching or drypoint do not permit.


Baselitz relates his recent preference for woodcut and linocut to his practice as a sculptor. ‘Sculpture is a very aggressive act. The same is true for woodcut and linocut’ (ibid.).

This entry has been approved by the artist.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986