Georg Baselitz

Female Nude on a Kitchen Chair


Not on display

Georg Baselitz born 1938
Original title
Weiblicher Akt auf Küchenstuhl
Linocut on paper
Image: 2021 × 1370 mm
Purchased 1984

Display caption

Baselitz emphasises the very physical nature of making his large format prints, seeing the process of cutting into the surface of lino or wood as an act of the body rather than the mind. This female nude is a portrait of Baselitz’s wife, Elke. Baselitz began by rapidly drawing the outlines of the figure directly onto a sheet of linoleum, then cutting into it, adding dense networks of lines. After working on the print for two days in February 1977 he put it aside, then returned to it and completed it in May 1979.

Gallery label, July 2015

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Catalogue entry

Georg Baselitz born 1938

P77011 Female Nude on a Kitchen Chair 1977-9

Linocut 2021 x 1370 (79 5/8 x 54) on white canvas-textured paper 2021 x 1370 (79 5/8 x 54); printed and published by the artist in an edition of seven
Inscribed 'G Baselitz 3 V 1979 | Nr 4' b.r.
Purchased from Galerie Neuendorf, Hamburg (Grant-in-Aid) 1984
Lit: Georg Baselitz: 32 Linoschnitte aus den Jahren 1976 bis 1979,, Joseph-Haubrich-Kunsthalle, Cologne 1979, p.21; Dorothea Dietrich-Boorsch, 'The Prints of Georg Baselitz' Print Collector's Newsletter, vol.12, Jan.-Feb. 1982, pp.165-7, repr.; Fred Jahn, Baselitz Peintre-Graveur: Werkverzeichnis der Druckgrafik 1974-1982, II, Berne and Berlin 1987, pp.21-2, repr.

This image depicts the artist's wife, Elke, although the artist states it was not drawn from the model. In the edition of seven each impression is of a different state. In an interview with Rainer Michael Mason, Baselitz described how he often rapidly drew the outlines of the image onto the lino as the first step, a process adopted with P77011, before beginning to cut the lino itself ('Orphée désirant', Georg Baselitz: Gravures 1963-1983,, Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Geneva 1984, pp.XXX-XXXI). According to a letter to the compiler from the artist's secretary, Detlev Gretenkort, dated 19 February 1988, a number of earlier proofs, not included in the edition, were made: 'earlier there were also some individual prints [of this image], as with the etching Oberon [1963-64, Jahn I, p.14-15] and particularly the woodcuts of 1966-67'. These variations are, in part, due to the artist's continued working of the lino surface during the printing of the edition, and also to the differences in the inking process for each individual print. This approach to printmaking had begun in the late 1960s:

it is only in the late '60s and early '70s, when Baselitz began to issue his prints as portfolios containing seven to ten prints as variations of one theme, that he perceived printmaking as a medium with expressive possibilities of its own ... Baselitz's imaginative use of printmaking techniques culminated in the Adler ('Eagle') portfolio of 1975 and the very large linocuts, beginning in 1976, that push by sheer size the technical possibilities of the medium to its limits (Dietrich-Boorsch 1982, p.165).

Baselitz cites 'artistic reasons' as behind his choice of linocut. He explains his intentions when producing work of this scale as follows: 'I intended is to be as big as possible beyond the conventional scope of the graphic'.

States one to three were made over two days on 1-2 February 1977. The artist returned to this image after two years - P77011 is dated 3 May 1979 - 'because it wasn't finished'. States five to seven were made over the next two days (Jahn, II, 1983, p.20; states one and four are the only two illustrated here). The first state (dated 1-2 February 1977; repr. Jahn, II, 1983, p.20), in contrast to P77011, lacks the large gashes running at a diagonal parallel to each other, one to the right of the model's head, one to the left of her left knee and the long gash running from the left of the image between the legs of the model and chair across to the corner, top right. P77011 is the first of the later prints, all made in 1979. In a letter to the compiler dated 31 March 1988 from the artist's secretary, Detlev Gretenkort, Baselitz cites 'artistic reasons' as the reason for changing the paper. For the last four impressions he chose a white, canvas-textured paper, while the first three images were printed on buff paper (Jahn, II, 1987, p.20).

Depictions of figures are the most common theme of these large prints. Dietrich-Boorsch writes: 'Like the still lifes and landscapes, the figures are rendered upside down to direct attention to the abstract qualities of the image'. She continues:

In the linocuts, Baselitz employs a wide variety of lines, making effective use of the adaptability of the medium. While the Adler series relied on different printmaking techniques, such as wood engraving, woodcut, and etching to achieve complexity, Baselitz found that the linocut could combine the effectiveness of different media in one method. He frequently contrasts fields of black with fields of white, bus also brings out all the half-tones with different hatching and variation in the length of line. Often a line is extended from the figure and turned into an independent pattern, making the figure seem almost accidental. Nevertheless, the lines emanate from the figure or are set in relation to it and do not function as pure decoration. Also, the figure balances within the composition and thus retains, even in the most abstract images, its significance (Dietrich-Boorsch 1982, p.167).

A general account examining Baselitz's large-scale linocuts, by François Woimant and Marie-Cécile Miessner, is in 'Linogravures monumentales 1977-1979', Nouvelles de l'Estampe, vol.79, March 1985, pp.12-20.

This entry has been approved by the artist.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, pp.311-12


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