Hans-Georg Kern was born on 23 January 1938 in Deutschbaselizt and in 1961 he took the name of this East German town and adopted it as his artistic surname.
In 1956, he enrolled at the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts in East Berlin, from where he was expelled after two semesters for “social and political immaturity”, so he moved to West Berlin to complete his studies.
During the 1960s, Baselitz began to develop his style, the first distinctive feature of which was the inversion of his motifs, painting figures in an inverted or upside-down position for the first time in 1969. This technique earned him a great deal of attention and criticism from the art community. His distinctive style consisted not only of inverted figures but also of an aggressive and expressive style in which his works are characterised by the strength of their colour and line.
In 1980, together with the artist Anselm Kiefer, he exhibited his first wooden sculpture in the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. In the 1980s he took part in various group exhibitions at institutions such as the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the Whitechapel Art Gallery, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Kunstmuseum in Basel, which brought him great visibility and recognition.
The paintings Baselitz produced between 1990 and 2010 marked a new shift in his work, showing a more linear and abstract approach to figuration. In the Remix series (2005-2008), Baselitz revisited his previous works, graphically representing his subjects in such a way that their subtle meanings and technical innovations became more explicit. In 2015, his Avignon paintings (2014), a set of eight imposing nude self-portraits, were presented at the Venice Biennale.
To commemorate the artist’s 80th birthday in 2018, solo exhibitions were held at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel; the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C.; and the Musée Unterlinden in Colmar, France. In 2019, he was elected a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris and he became the first living artist to have an exhibition at the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice, followed by his largest retrospective to date at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2021. The Hortensia Herrero collection has two works by Baselitz: a painting in which, oddly, the figures do not appear inverted and the iconic sculpture “Bündel” (2015), which represents some heels made of bronze. In this piece we can see the artist’s handprints on the wood that he worked, first with an axe and then with a chainsaw before casting it in bronze. A sculpture that could be seen in the exhibition Georg Baselitz: Archinto at the Museo di Palazzo Grimani during the Venice Biennale 2022.