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Georg Baselitz was born on January 23, 1938 in Deutschbaselitz, Saxony to a school-teacher couple as Hans-Georg Kern. He started calling himself after his hometown at the age of 18 in 1956. Georg Baselitz was educated at Volksschule and Gymnasium, Kamenz until 1955. He studied art at the Kunstakademie, East Berlin 1956-1957, under Hans Trier, Akademie der Kunste, West Berlin from 1957 to 1964. Georg Baselitz was married in 1962 and has two sons, Daniel and Anton. His wife Elke has been his most enduring model for over thirty years.

It was at the East Berlin Academy of Fine Arts or Kunstakademie that Georg Baselitz began thinking independently. He recounts that he started seeing through the propaganda behind the building of the Berlin Wall, and the East German workers’ uprising, etc. Georg Baselitz began realizing that the whole system was a fraud, a house of cards based on deception and corruption. About a year later, he was suspended from the academy on grounds that he was “socio-politically immature.”

Georg Baselitz had to work hard to support himself – in a brewery, in a warehouse and in a plastics factory. After a year or so he began painting in his own way, against the prevailing trend in West Germany and Western Europe as well as America – figuratively.
The paintings of Georg Baselitz tend to confuse the viewer, distorting the organized mechanisms of visual perception. His works repudiate “Paintings with images.” There is little suggestion of story or description. Georg Baselitz is best known for his “upside-down” images, and any temptation to dismiss them as gimmicky was quelled by his early work, which clarified the process by which the artist has achieved a balance between abstraction and figuration.

Sources include:
Contemporary Artists, 2nd edition
Janet Kutner inARTnews, May 1998
Susan Kandel and Elizabeth Hayt-Atkins in ARTnews, March 1988
The Artist Who Came In From the Cold by Dornberg, ARTnews, October 1992

Compiled and written by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher of Laguna Woods, California.

Biography from the Archives of AskART