Georg Baselitz (b. 1938)
Georg Baselitz (b. 1938)

Strandbild 10-Night in Tunisia II (Beach Picture 10-Night in Tunisia II)

Georg Baselitz (b. 1938)
Strandbild 10-Night in Tunisia II (Beach Picture 10-Night in Tunisia II)
signed, titled, inscribed and dated 'Strandbild 10 Feb 81' (on the reverse)
oil and tempera on canvas
98¼ x 78½in. (249.5 x 199.5cm.)
Painted in 1981
Galerie Neuendorf, Hamburg.
Saatchi Collection, London.
Anon. Sale, Sotheby's New York, 30 April 1991.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
R. Fuchs, H. Kramer and P. Schjeldahl, Art of Our Time: The Saatchi Collection 3: Baselitz, Guston, Kiefer, Morley, Polke, Schnabel, London 1984, no. 13 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
Dusseldorf, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Georg Baselitz, Gerhard Richter, 1981 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
Munich, Haus der Kunst, Pierrot - Melancholie und Maske Die Figur des Pierrot von Watteau bis Picasso, 1995.
Paris, Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Georg Baselitz, 1996-1997, no. 25 (illustrated in colour, p. 98).
Bologna, Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Baselitz, 1997.
Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Georg Baselitz. The Great Pathos, 1999.
Humlebæk, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Baselitz: Painter, 2006.
Bremen, Weserburg Museum für moderne Kunst, Paint in Blue ACT Art Collection Siegfried Loch, 2007 (illustrated in colour, p. 23).

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Louisa Robertson
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Lot Essay

Executed in 1981, Strandbild 10 - Night in Tunisia II by Georg Baselitz is a vast, monumental canvas swathed in vivid, energetic strokes of azure blue, vigorously and freely applied over the surface of the canvas. Forming part of the artist's Strandbild (Beach Paintings) series of 1980-81, Strandbild 10 - Night in Tunisia II depicts a single female figure lying sideways with her arm stretched out behind her body. Comprised largely from the interplay of blue, red and black, Baselitz allows hints of alabaster white paint to radiate from beneath the layers. A small, windowless house with a black door, mostly obscured by rough, quick gestures of blue, is inverted at the centre of the canvas. In this painting, Baselitz overtly emphasises the flatness of the picture plane, never fully covering the edges, leaving areas of the primary layer of white untouched. Originally part of the Saatchi Collection, Strandbild 10 - Night in Tunisia II has been exhibited widely in many important international venues. Beginning with the seminal 1981exhibition at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf with fellow German painter, Gerhard Richter, the painting was also part of group exhibition Pierrot: Melancholie und Maske in 1995 at the Haus der Kunst in Munich.

Painted a year after Baselitz's participation in the West German Pavilion at the 1980 Venice Biennale, where he exhibited his controversial, first large-scale sculpture work, Modell für eine Skulptur (Model for a Sculpture), Strandbild 10 - Night in Tunisia II reveals the artist's growing interest in integrating aspects of his sculptural practice into his two-dimensional works. Attacking the organic limewood material of Modell für eine Skulptur with chainsaw, axe and chisel, engendering a discernibly crude and rough surface, Baselitz turns to the 'primitive and [the] brutal' in his foray into sculpture (G. Baselitz quoted in D. Waldman, Georg Baselitz, exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 1995, p. 97). This increasing curiosity into 'primitivising' shape is reflected in the stark and oblique form of the central figure in Strandbild 10 - Night in Tunisia II, its feet appearing flat and grounded whilst the masses of blue and red offer the viewer a multidimensional reading of its body. In a similar manner to Picasso's anti-academic, Cubist gestures, Baselitz entreats the viewer to experience the figure's contours from various angles, depicting structure and volume with resolute simplicity.

Baselitz has continually endorsed the idea of 'construction' in his practice, eschewing 'depiction' or 'representation' for the singular importance of pictorial organisation. For him, the debate between representation or non-representation has become irrelevant, calling it an 'old debate' (G. Baselitz, interview with H. Schwerfel, D. Gretenkort, Georg Baselitz: Collected Writings and Interviews, London, 2010, p. 184). As Baselitz has explained: 'there are people, serious people, who have argued about representation and non-representation and who have persistently linked the two to some notion of progress. To me, that is already decidedly a mistake, because the problem is located somewhere else entirely. The problem is not the object in the picture, but the picture as an object' (Ibid). In his formulation of Strandbild 10 - Night in Tunisia II, Baselitz emphatically displays his painting as an object, rejecting the illusionistic device of perspective in his execution. Condensing the two motifs, whilst paying no heed to scale, Baselitz presents with consummate conviction the flatness of his painting surface.

Strandbild 10 - Night in Tunisia II hails from a crucial moment in the artist's maturing career. Having arrived on the international art scene as the father of a new German painting, Junge Wilden, Baselitz was both critically acclaimed and censured for his provocative approach to painting, printing and sculpture. Yet, the artist has continuously rejected any attempt to order, or categorise his works, stating, 'there is [no ideal] todayI was born intoa destroyed landscape, a destroyed people, a destroyed society. And I didn't want to re-establish an order: I'd seen enough of so-called order. I was forced to question everything, to be 'naïve', to start again' (G. Baselitz, interview with D. Kuspit, D. Gretenkort, Georg Baselitz: Collected Writings and Interviews, London, 2010, p. 245). Baselitz transmits his 'naïve' self in Strandbild 10 - Night in Tunisia II, drawing from the primitive tradition of wood carving and his own sculptural investigations, presenting a highly emotive, primordial composition, luminous in its expanse of blue.

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