Sale: 550 / Evening Sale, June 07. 2024 in Munich Lot 12

Georg Baselitz
Fingermalerei - Birke, 1972.
Oil on canvas
€ 800,000 - 1,200,000

$ 856,000 - 1,284,000

Fingermalerei - Birke. 1972.
Oil on canvas.
Lower left signed and dated. Dated and titled "Fingermalerei-Birke" on the reverse. Signed, dated and titled on the folded canvas. 162 x 130 cm (63.7 x 51.1 in). [JS].

• One of the early paintings with the characteristic “upside-down” motif.
• The forest was one of the artist's most important motifs in the 1960s and 1970s - in “Der Wald auf dem Kopf” (1969, Museum Ludwig, Cologne), Baselitz turned the depiction by 180 degrees for the first time.
• In 1972, Baselitz showed a work from this key series at documenta 5.
• Works from this groundbreaking period are extremely rare.
• Part of an acclaimed German private collection for 40 years.
• Similar pictures are in, among others, the Pinakothek der Moderne/Museum Brandhorst, Munich, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Museum Folkwang, Essen, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

PROVENANCE: Galerie Neuendorf, Hamburg (directly from the artist).
Jürgen Holstein Antiquariat, Pöcking.
Private collection North Rhine-Westphalia.
Private collection Northern Germany (inherited from the above in 2013).

Called up: June 7, 2024 - ca. 17.22 h +/- 20 min.

An eventful German biography
Georg Baselitz is considered one of the most important artists of contemporary German art. His works, with their different approaches and motifs, are characterized by a gestural expressive figuration and demonstrate his considerable versatility. Georg Baselitz was born the year before the Second World War broke out and grew up in the aftermath of the horrific events of the war. He initially studied painting in East Berlin, in 1957 he transferred to the 'Hochschule der Bildenden Künste' in Berlin-Charlottenburg, where Hann Trier was one of his teachers. He became a citizen of West Germany in 1958 and was denied access to his old homeland as a result of the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961. An eventful German biography.

The motif. The forest
In 1971, the artist moved to Forst an der Weinstraße, before he eventually moved to Derneburg in 1975. Baselitz continued on a path of experimentation and a quest for ways to express his characteristic motifs in form, color, and surface using a variety of techniques that, in terms of creating art, did not stand in the way of either the subject or the painting method. In a new studio surrounded by nature, he produced his first Finger Paintings. Increasing the distance to the subject was accompanied by a physical approximation of the painting. Baselitz dipped his hands into the paint bucket and created the image directly on the canvas using his fingers. There should be nothing between him and the painting, not even the brush. In the years that followed, this effect resulted in outstanding works with an unprecedented character, among them "Fingermalerei I - Adler" (1971/72), "Akt Elke" (1974), and the furiously painted "Waldweg", a vivid yet fragmentary motif without a concrete narrative or content.

Attacking the illusion of painting
Baselitz's upside-down paintings show a radical rejection of the mimesis of Western painting, of the conventions of painting, which go back to the rules of perspective established in the Renaissance. The illusion that observers see an exact image of the world remained into the late 19th century when photography replaced painted magic with a more convincing idea of the real world. Since this time, painters have illusionized what they see, developing painting styles such as Impressionism, losing themselves in the theory of Pointillism and evolving into Expressionism and New Objectivity, finally trying their hand at the broad field of non-objectivity. And yet, like many painters of the 20th century, Baselitz sought a way to break with tradition, to paint pictures without sacrificing the appearance of reality. And Baselitz convinces viewers to accept his upside-down world as a new pictorial convention. The "upside-down" painting is accompanied by the effect of eliminating the meaning of the figure, liberating the motif from a certain gravity. After this "pivot" in 1969, Baselitz painted a series of inverted portraits, followed by pictures within the picture, in which one picture - usually a landscape - is framed by another, thus extending the break with conventional painting.

Inverting established patterns
When Georg Baselitz made "Der Wald auf dem Kopf" in 1969, the first work with the motif rotated by 180 degrees, it was widely understood as an artistic provocation. (Fig.) There is no doubt that it was not only his intention to question the act of painting itself but also to challenge traditional viewing habits, however, provocation as an end in itself was far from the artist's mind, as he took painting far too seriously. Baselitz later said that he had reached a point at which he wanted to change the direction of his painting. As early as 1964, he experimented by turning motifs upside down, as can be seen in the painting "Das Kreuz" (The Cross), in which Baselitz turns the row of houses upside down. And in 1968, he tied a forest worker headfirst to a tree in the painting of the same name, surely a reminiscence of the martyrdom of the Apostle Peter and Christian motifs from the Renaissance. In the following year, as mentioned above, he painted "Der Wald auf dem Kopf", the first composition with the motif completely upside down. The artist was probably inspired by the painting " Wermsdorfer Wald" by Ferdinand von Rayski (1806-1890) from 1859, which he had seen at the Gemäldegalerie Neue Meister in Dresden. (Fig.) With this reversal in the picture, Baselitz ultimately combined a deeply Nordic Romanticism with the impulsiveness of German Expressionism, both in terms of art history and painting style. On the one hand, Rayski's forests represent a naturalistic painting tradition dating back to the 19th century; on the other hand, Rayski's Saxon landscapes represent childhood places that had become inaccessible for Baselitz after his move to West Berlin and the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961. Caspar David Friedrich's painting provided Baselitz with a further important guideline. Friedrich constructed landscapes and idealized the real situation: "A landscape is a state of mind. Men should not only paint what they see before them but also what they see within themselves". This radical new way of thinking played a decisive role for Baselitz, for whom it was all about the landscape in his memory - the reason for a lifelong confrontation. Nordic people are said to have a deep connection with the forest. The forest as a place of longing, a place of silence, retreat, and strength is praised in songs, poems, and pictures. To a greater extent, Romanticism shaped this connection to the forest, particularly in terms of German identity. In his work, Georg Baselitz has not only dealt intensively with German history, the question of identity, and his biography but also integrated the legacy of art history into his pictorial thinking. [MvL]

Buyer's premium, taxation and resale right compensation for Georg Baselitz "Fingermalerei - Birke"
This lot can be purchased subject to differential or regular taxation, artist‘s resale right compensation is due.

Differential taxation:
Hammer price up to 800,000 €: herefrom 32 % premium.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 800,000 € is subject to a premium of 27 % and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 800,000 €.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 4,000,000 € is subject to a premium of 22 % and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 4,000,000 €.
The buyer's premium contains VAT, however, it is not shown.

Regular taxation:
Hammer price up to 800,000 €: herefrom 27 % premium.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 800,000 € is subject to a premium of 21% and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 800,000 €.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 4,000,000 € is subject to a premium of 15% and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 4,000,000 €.
The statutory VAT of currently 19 % is levied to the sum of hammer price and premium. As an exception, the reduced VAT of 7 % is added for printed books.

We kindly ask you to notify us before invoicing if you wish to be subject to regular taxation.

Calculation of artist‘s resale right compensation:
For works by living artists, or by artists who died less than 70 years ago, a artist‘s resale right compensation is levied in accordance with Section 26 UrhG:
4 % of hammer price from 400.00 euros up to 50,000 euros,
another 3 % of the hammer price from 50,000.01 to 200,000 euros,
another 1 % for the part of the sales proceeds from 200,000.01 to 350,000 euros,
another 0.5 % for the part of the sale proceeds from 350,000.01 to 500,000 euros and
another 0.25 % of the hammer price over 500,000 euros.
The maximum total of the resale right fee is EUR 12,500.

The artist‘s resale right compensation is VAT-exempt.