“Sculpture is a thing like a miracle. It is built up, decked out, made arbitrarily not as the sign of thoughts but as a thing within the limits of the shape.”
With a career spanning over six decades, Georg Baselitz (b. 1938, Saxony, Germany) first came to prominence in post-war Germany as a painter. From 1969 onwards, he has been known for inverting – or turning upside down – human forms and other motifs within expressionistic paintings which attempt to move away from content and narrative. Baselitz instead focussed on form, colour and texture, bringing new perspectives to the tradition of German Expressionism. He turned to sculpture from 1979, continuing to explore tensions between the figurative and the abstract through crude approximations of figures and body parts carved from wood.
Selected with Georg Baselitz and taken directly from his studio, Georg Baselitz: Sculptures 2011-2015 features never-before-seen towering sculptures alongside loose, inky drawings. Inviting you to enter a forest of raw, timber sculptures, this exhibition provides new insights into the artist’s process, and how his works inform one another across different mediums.
The sculptures in this exhibition were not originally intended for public view. They were made as maquettes, or models, in preparation for bronze works. Each wooden sculpture is made from a single tree trunk, which Baselitz carved down using power saws, axes and chisels. His solid, impactful figures retain the texture of timber, with distinctive incisions and notches across their surfaces. Exhibited at Serpentine South, which is surrounded by the trees of Kensington Gardens, these timber sculptures recall their original living forms in the forests of Saxony.
The drawings which are also on view are not preparatory sketches for the wooden maquettes, but were instead made during the sculpting process. By bringing these drawings and sculptures together, the exhibition highlights the links between Baselitz’s two- and three-dimensional processes. This is a vivid exploration of the possibilities – and impossibilities – of translating between painting, drawing and sculpture.