Art History Lab

Georg Baselitz: Revolutionizing Art with Neo-Expressionism and Inverted Paintings

Anto the Life and Art of Georg Baselitz

Georg Baselitz is a world-renowned German artist who has revolutionized the art world over the course of his career. His unique neo-expressionist style and techniques have earned him international recognition and acclaim, and his art continues to inspire and intrigue people around the world to this day.

In this article, we will delve into the life and art of Georg Baselitz, exploring his background, influences, and artistic style. We will examine his controversial revival of German Expressionism, and the role he played in the art world during the tumultuous period of World War II and the post-war era.

We will explore his neo-expressionist style, his use of emotional content and color palette, and his inverted paintings and abstraction. Join us as we take a closer look at the life and art of this revolutionary artist.

Background and Early Life

Georg Baselitz was born on January 23, 1938, in Deutschbaselitz, Saxony, in eastern Germany. He grew up in a small town near Dresden, where his father worked as a teacher.

From a young age, Baselitz was drawn to art, and he spent much of his childhood drawing and painting. Baselitz’s early influences were German Expressionism and the art of the Academy of Fine and Applied Art in East Germany.

He was also influenced by the works of Max Beckmann, Edvard Munch, and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.

Reviving German Expressionism

In the 1960s, Baselitz made a controversial decision to revive German Expressionism, a style that had been condemned by the Nazi regime. He began painting large, expressive canvases that featured distorted human figures, bold colors, and thick brushstrokes.

Baselitz’s revival of German Expressionism was met with both praise and condemnation. Some admired his boldness and willingness to confront the past, while others criticized his use of figures and controversial subject matter.

Despite the controversy, Baselitz continued to push the boundaries of art, and his work continued to evolve throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Artistic Style and Techniques

Baselitz’s neo-expressionist style is characterized by emotionally charged figures and vibrant colors. His use of color palette is particularly noteworthy, as he uses bold, contrasting colors to create a sense of drama and intensity in his work.

In addition to his use of emotional content and color, Baselitz is also known for his inverted paintings. These paintings are created by painting the image upside down and then flipping the canvas over, creating a sense of deception and abstraction.


Georg Baselitz’s life and art continue to inspire and intrigue people around the world. From his early influences in German Expressionism and his revival of the style in the 1960s to his innovative techniques and bold use of color palette, his work is a testament to the power of art to challenge and inspire.

Whether you are a long-time fan or just discovering his work for the first time, Georg Baselitz is an artist worth exploring. Famous Artworks of Georg Baselitz: A closer look

Georg Baselitz is a German artist known for his unique and thought-provoking neo-expressionist style.

His artwork often features emotionally charged figures, bold colors, and disruptive subject matter. His style has earned him international acclaim and recognition, and he is widely considered one of the greatest artists of his generation.

In this section, we will take a closer look at some of his most famous artworks, exploring their themes and significance.

Die groe Nacht im Eimer (Big Night Down the Drain)

One of Baselitz’s most controversial pieces, “Die groe Nacht im Eimer,” was created in 1962 and caused quite a stir in the art world. The painting is centered around a wounded figure and is surrounded by images of masturbation, causing shock and disgust among many viewers.

The painting’s title, which translates to “Big Night Down the Drain,” references the idea that the figure’s potential for greatness has been lost. It is a stark commentary on the boredom and sense of despair that Baselitz experienced in post-war Germany at the time.

Despite the anger and outrage that “Die groe Nacht im Eimer” initially caused, it has become a highly prized piece of art, appreciated for its shock value, commentary on society, and technical prowess.


Rebel” is a painting created by Baselitz in 1965, and is widely considered one of his greatest works. The painting features a wounded, archetypal figure wrapped in bandages.

The figure is depicted against a dark, brooding cloud and is characterized by a sense of intense emotion and suffering. The painting is viewed as a commentary on post-war Germany and the emotional trauma that many Germans faced after the war.

It is considered one of the most moving and powerful depictions of the post-war period in German art.

Der Wald auf dem Kopf (The Wood on Its Head)

Another famous painting of Baselitz is “Der Wald auf dem Kopf,” which was created in 1969. This painting was the first of Baselitz’s inverted paintings and marked a significant departure from traditional painting techniques.

The painting features a landscape with the trees painted upside down, creating a sense of disruption and disorientation. The inverted painting technique creates an optical illusion, forcing the viewer to question their perception and understanding of the world.

Exhibitions and Recognition

Baselitz’s work has been exhibited in some of the world’s most prestigious museums and galleries. In 1995, the Solomon R.

Guggenheim Museum in New York featured an extensive exhibition of Baselitz’s work, which included many of his most famous pieces. In 2007, Baselitz was featured in a retrospective exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

The exhibition showcased over 80 of Baselitz’s works, including some of his most famous pieces. More recently, Baselitz was featured in a retrospective exhibition at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich in 2018.

The exhibition spanned Baselitz’s entire career, showcasing his evolution as an artist and his contributions to the art world. Baselitz’s work has been widely recognized and celebrated throughout his career.

He has received numerous awards and honors, including the Praemium Imperiale in 2018, one of the highest honors in the art world.


Georg Baselitz’s famous artworks continue to inspire and intrigue people around the world. His unique neo-expressionist style, use of emotional content and color palette, and inventive techniques have earned him a place among the greatest artists in history.

Whether exploring his controversial “Die groe Nacht im Eimer,” moving “

Rebel,” or pioneering “Der Wald auf dem Kopf,” Baselitz’s art is a testament to the power of art to challenge and inspire.

Current Status and Controversies of Georg Baselitz

As one of the most renowned and celebrated artists of his generation, Georg Baselitz has made a significant impact on the art world throughout his career. Born in 1938, Baselitz has been at the cutting-edge of artistic expression for over sixty years.

In this section, we will take a closer look at his current artistic career, exploring his woodcuts, sculptures, and set design. We will also examine some of the controversies surrounding his recent remarks and criticisms.

Continuing Artistic Career

Baselitz has continued to explore new avenues in his work, pushing the boundaries of artistic expression. In addition to painting, he has also expanded his work to include woodcuts, sculptures, and set design.

His woodcuts are renowned for their detailed imagery and masterful use of line and composition. He creates sculptural works that are often monumental in scale and may feature a range of materials, including bronze, wood, and steel.

Baselitz has also made significant contributions to set design for operas, working with renowned directors such as Peter Sellars and Martin Kusej. His set designs are often characterized by their dramatic and innovative elements, making them some of the most talked-about productions in the world of opera.

Controversial Remarks and Criticisms

Despite his ongoing success, Baselitz has also been at the center of several controversies in recent years. In 2013, he made sexist comments about women in the art world, stating, “Women don’t paint very well.

It’s a fact.” This comment was met with widespread condemnation from critics and artists alike, who accused Baselitz of being out of touch and misogynistic. Baselitz has also been a vocal critic of German politics in recent years, particularly regarding the government’s growing influence on the arts.

In 2018, he criticized the government’s decision to cut funding for the country’s arts institutions, stating that it was a “disastrous decision for culture in Germany.”

Despite the criticism, Baselitz remains an influential figure in the art world and continues to push the boundaries of artistic expression.

Suggested Reading

For those interested in delving further into Baselitz’s life and work, Richard Calvocoressi’s book, “Georg Baselitz: Painting and Sculpture,” provides an informative and insightful survey of the artist’s career. The book features over 200 illustrations and offers a comprehensive overview of Baselitz’s work, illustrating his unique and rich artistic vision.


Georg Baselitz is one of the most celebrated artists of the twentieth century, known for his unique neo-expressionist style, use of emotional content and color palette, and disruptive subject matter. From his controversial remarks to his ongoing commitment to artistic exploration, Baselitz remains a thought-provoking and influential figure in the art world.

Whether exploring his paintings, sculptures, or set designs, Baselitz’s work continues to inspire and challenge audiences around the world.

Frequently Asked Questions about Georg Baselitz

Georg Baselitz is a celebrated German artist, known for his neo-expressionist style and innovative techniques. Over his career, he has gained an international following and has been the subject of numerous exhibitions and retrospectives.

In this section, we will explore some of the most frequently asked questions about Baselitzs life and art.

Signature Style

Q: What is Georg Baselitz’s signature style? A: Georg Baselitzs signature style is characterized by his use of inverted paintings, which create an optical illusion that challenges the viewer’s perception of the world.

In his inverted paintings, the image appears as if it is upside down, but the viewer is still able to understand and appreciate the composition. This revolutionary technique transforms his paintings into objects of contemplation rather than mere representations of reality.

Q: What is revolutionary about Baselitz’s inverted paintings? A: Baselitz’s inverted paintings represent a revolutionary departure from traditional painting techniques.

By flipping the image upside down, he challenges the viewer’s perspective and forces them to reconsider their preconceived ideas about painting. Baselitz’s inverted paintings create a sense of disorientation, which adds to the emotional content of the artwork.

Other Mediums

Q: Has Georg Baselitz worked in other mediums besides painting? A: In addition to painting, Baselitz has also worked in several other mediums throughout his career.

He has created detailed and complex woodcut prints, which require a great deal of planning and technique. He has also created sculptures, which are often monumental in scale.

Q: Has Baselitz been involved in any controversies? A: Yes, Baselitz has been involved in several controversies throughout his career.

In 2013, he was criticized for making sexist remarks about women in the art world. In 2014, he faced criticism for a sculpture that depicted a Nazi salute, which he later removed from an exhibition in Dresden.

Despite these controversies, Baselitz remains a pivotal figure in the art world.


Georg Baselitzs innovative techniques and signature style have earned him a place among the greatest artists of the twentieth century. From his inverted paintings to his woodcut prints and sculptures, his work continues to inspire and challenge audiences around the world.

Although he has been involved in some controversies, his contributions to the art world are unparalleled, and his work remains a testament to the power of artistic expression. Georg Baselitz, the renowned German artist, has left an indelible mark on the art world with his neo-expressionist style and revolutionary techniques.

From his controversial revival of German Expressionism to his iconic inverted paintings, Baselitz’s work challenges perception and pushes the boundaries of artistic expression. His sculptures, woodcuts, and set designs further showcase his versatility and innovation.

Despite controversies surrounding his remarks, Baselitz’s contributions remain invaluable. Takeaways from his life and art highlight the power of artistic exploration, the ability to challenge societal norms, and the lasting impact of an artist who dares to be different.

Baselitz’s legacy serves as a reminder that art has the transformative power to challenge, inspire, and shape the world.

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