Georg Baselitz. Gravures 1997-2017
Painter, sculptor, as well as prolific etcher and engraver, often cited as one of the greatest contemporary artists, the German Georg Baselitz celebrates his 80th birthday in 2018. On this occasion, MBAL dedicates to him an important exhibition reuniting 20 years of etched and engraved art. Since his discovery of etching and engraving in the 1960s, Georg Baselitz (1938) has constantly put the possibilities offered by these techniques to the test. The etchings, the wood engravings, and the linocuts that he makes alongside his paintings contribute to his quest for the most effective stroke. As a result, we can discern a clarification of his compositions, which he wishes to be as pure and elegant as a “schema” (or a type of coding). The subjects of his engravings and etchings – generally surrounded by black on a monochrome background – are frequently represented upside down in order to blur the tracks of possible interpretations and to subvert our references. However, he does not simply exhibit upside-down works that were made right-side up. Rather, he executes the patterns upside-down in order to continually reexamine his gestures and gaze. Bestiary and human representations – the horse, the dog, the eagle, as well as the fragmented body or even his auto portrait – are at present part of a baselitzien repertoire that the artist never ceases to reinvent. Unlike painting, where it is possible to cover up and rectify at any time, digging a form into a lino or wooden plate, just like scratching a copper plate, requires a form of determination, as well as a physical and intellectual commitment. Baselitz, one of the most fertile and audacious creative energies of our time, is without contest a great master of engraving and etching, which he practices to this day as an art in its own right.