Georg Baselitz



In Tate Liverpool

Georg Baselitz born 1938
Original title
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1627 × 1302 mm
frame: 1650 × 1330 × 40 mm
Purchased 1982

Display caption

In the mid-1960s, Baselitz embarked on a series of paintings depicting male figures that dominate the space of the picture. While they bear some relation to the heroic figures of Social Realist art, they were also portrayed as wounded or dishevelled. According to the artist, this figure holds the pole of a flag in one hand, while the other hand is bandaged. Details such as the burning house appear in other works in the series. 'I was concerned with a very direct, almost illustrative method of representation', Baselitz has said of this work.

Gallery label, July 2015

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Catalogue entry

Georg Baselitz born 1938

T03442 Rebel 1965

Oil on canvas 1627 x 1302 (64 1/6 x 51 1/4)
Inscribed 'G. Baselitz | Rebell' on back top centre
Purchased from Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne (Grant-in-Aid) 1982
Prov: Purchased from the artist by Michael Werner 1965; property of Galerie Michael Werner by 1982
Exh: Georg Baselitz Ein Neuer Typ: Bilder 1965-66, Galerie Neuendorf, Hamburg, Dec. 1973-Jan. 1974 (no number); Georg Baselitz: Paintings 1964-1967, Anthony d'Offay Gallery, May 1985 (7)
Lit: Georg Baselitz,, Staatsgalerie moderner Kunst, Munich 1976, p.52, pl.2 (in negative); Georg Baselitz,, Kunstverein, Brunswick 1985, pp.36-40, 88-90; Richard Calvocoressi, 'Georg Baselitz' in Baselitz: Paintings 1960-83,, Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1983, repr. p.13; Also repr: Georg Baselitz: Dipinti 1965-1987,, Centro Mostre di Firenze, Florence 1988, p.32

Unless otherwise indicated, all statements attributed to the artist come from a letter to the compiler of 19 February 1988 from the artist's secretary, Detlev Gretenkort, in response to questions to the artist.

T03442 belongs to a series of work in various media, begun in the summer of 1965 and concluded the following year. Certain aspects of Baselitz's earlier work, however, remain. As Richard Calvocoressi writes: 'In the neuer Typ ('new man' or 'new type') images - paintings, drawings and a series of etchings, all executed in 1965-6 - traces of the 'P.D. '[Pandemonium] period remain: exposed genitals (here symbolising fertility rather than impotence), crucifixion imagery (stigmatised hands, trees, crosses), and devastated landscapes containing animals and soft, dead forms' (Calvocoressi 1983, p.13). A schematic description of the series was given by Günther Gercken:

Description, Shepherd, partisan, rebel, Red, Green, prisoner, imprisoned painter, L.R. (Ludwig Richter) on the way to work, Bonjour Monsieur Courbet, the modern painter.
Characteristics. Youthful, male figure, mostly standing but sometimes sitting or crouching, dominating the picture space, of great stature, emphasized through diminution of the head and enlargement of the hands, which are stigmatized, carrying a flag or palette, a burning house or a cart on the palm of the hand. Barefoot. The massive body, off-balance, tips forward ...
Clothing. Combat gear, open-neck shirt with patch pockets, short, baggy trousers or long trousers with bindings (Günther Gercken in Hamburg, 1973, p.3).

According to the artist, T03442 was painted in Berlin under artificial lighting conditions and was painted directly onto the canvas with unmixed oils. There was no underdrawing, nor were there any preparatory sketches for the painting. The painting has not been reworked at a later date. The artist writes, 'I was concerned with a very direct, almost illustrative method of representation'. The figure dominates the picture plane. The rebel is outlined against a dark ground, although the colours used to paint the figure overflow into the ground and, conversely, the ground colours emerge in parts of the figure. The interpenetration of figure and ground forms part of the process of formal exploration taken further in the paintings following the 'Neuer Typ' works (the first of which was painted in 1966), where the figure and ground are fractured in an arbitrary manner. The subordination of the subject to a concentration on formal, pictorial concerns was most forcefully exemplified in 1969 when Baselitz first inverted the subject, a practice he has continued ever since.

The rebel of T03442, according to the artist, is holding a flag-pole in his right hand, while his left hand is bandaged. The wound may relate to the trap, an attribute that appears many times in Neue Typen paintings, clamped over the hands and feet of the 'Neue Typen' causing them to bleed. The burning house seen between the hero's legs is another common attribute. The flag, cart, house and trap are related, writes the artist, 'to the economy of the figure'.

While the hallmarks of the 'Neucin Typ' works in all media are the single, male figure, mostly standing and surrounded by a number of recurring objects, several other works share the same title as T03442. The discussion of the print Rebel (1965), P07737, in Tate Gallery Acquisitions 1982-4, 1986, p.365-2 (repr.) includes an account of the 'Rebel' motif. In Rebel 1965 (repr. Georg Baselitz: Arbeiten auf Papier 1961-1968,, Galerie Thomas Borgmann, Cologne 1971, pl.11), a pen and charcoal drawing, the rebel stands among the bodies of the fallen dead holding a large banner. Rebel in a Trap 1965 (repr. Georg Baselitz,, Galerie Beyeler, Basle 1986, pl.59), a pencil and ink drawing, depicts the rebel with his foot in a trap. P07737 relates to T03442 in its depiction of the figure as an 'antihero' (letter from Detlev Gretenkort to the Tate Gallery Print Department, dated 27 June 1984) with the attributes indicating a 'negative pathos' (ibid.). In the same letter the artist confirms that the various versions of 'Rebel' were made in parallel with each other, rather than the etchings and drawings being studies for the painting.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, pp.487-8

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