Georg Baselitz: Between Eagles and Pioneers @ White Cube Gallery

A new exhibition titled ‘Between Eagles and Pioneers’ by the internationally known artist Georg Baselitz is currently on show at White Cube Gallery. The exhibition involves three principle themes – dogs (‘Hund’), eagles (‘Adler’) and double portraits. The images of these paintings were first featured in the German newspaper Die Welt on the twentieth anniversary of German reunification last year. Baselitz grew up in East Germany before he moved to the West as a student, and as such he has long been referencing German history in his work.

In the double portrait paintings, loosely grouped as ‘Seid Bereit, Immer Bereit’ (‘Be Prepared, Always Prepared’), Baselitz takes as his starting point the slogan of the Young Pioneers movement, where both himself and his wife were members as children. For the dogs and eagles paintings, Baselitz revisited earlier patterns from his own work. His exhibition consists of 13 large paintings and a few smaller ones. Of those 13 large paintings, eight are paintings of an eagle, which are on a huge scale and depicted in vibrant colours. Eagles began to play an important part in his life from very early stages – one of his earliest paintings is a fairly naturalistic rendering of a pair of eagles soaring over mountains. He returned to the eagle motif in the 1970s. And then again. Although the eagle is an emblematic bird that has appeared on the German coat of arms and is one of the oldest state symbols in Europe, Baselitz maintains that it has no programmatic significance in his work. Nevertheless, the idea of the eagle clearly means so much to him. The eagles on the walls today have heroism and pathos and are hanging from the gallery walls seeking for freedom and endless skies.

The whole point of Baselitz’s work, according to the artist himself, is that he erupted onto the West German scene in the early 1960s, an escapee from the severity and the tough political circumstances of the East, determined to make his personal statement in art based on his experiences that reflect echoes of the recent European history past.
|Kostas Prapoglou