Georg Baselitz (b. 1938)
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more Property from the Collection of Magnus Konow
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)
titled and dated 'Strandbild 10 Feb. 81 ‘night in tunisia II’' (on the reverse)
oil and tempera on canvas 
98 1/2 x 78 3/4 in. (250.2 x 200 cm.)
Painted in 1981.
Galerie Neuendorf, Hamburg
The Saatchi Collection, London
Anon. sale; Sotheby's, New York, 30 April 1991, lot 21
The Siggi and Sissi Loch Charitable Foundation, Berlin
Their sale; Christie's, London, 27 June 2012, lot 56
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, n.p., no. 13 (illustrated).
Düsseldorf, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Georg Baselitz, Gerhard Richter, May-July 1981, p. 25 (illustrated).
Munich, Haus der Kunst, Pierrot - Melancholie und Maske Die Figur des Pierrot von Watteau bis Picasso, September-December 1995, p. 185.
Paris, Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Georg Baselitz, October 1996-January 1997, no. 25, p. 98 (illustrated).
Bremen, Weserburg Museum für moderne Kunst, Paint it Blue: ACT Art Collection Siegfried Loch, March-May 2007, p. 23 (illustrated).
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Joanna Szymkowiak
Joanna Szymkowiak

Lot Essay

Painted in 1981, Georg Baselitz’s Strandbild 10 - Night in Tunisia II (Beach Picture 10 – Night in Tunisia II) is a monumental painting, which at nearly 100 inches tall, towers over the viewer. Swathed in energetic strokes of azure blue, the surreal composition synthesizes several foundational qualities of the artist’s practice, including his inversion of traditional pictorial features, and the amalgamation of the conventionally oppositional properties of two and three dimensions. A significant work from the artist’s Strandbild, or Beach Paintings, series of 1980-1981, Strandbild 10 - Night in Tunisia II presents a nude female figure with arms outstretched behind her, floating above a turbulent sea of scratched turquoise and ominous black. At the heart of the composition, rendered with enigmatic gestures of crimson and blue, an inverted hut melts into the irregular color field beyond, its framework signposted only by a stark black door. Although painted with dense strokes of rich pigment, Baselitz allows hints of alabaster white to radiate from beneath the layers, bestowing a sense of corporeality upon the painting’s figurative elements, which seem to materialize physically against the emphatically flat picture plane. Originally part of the Saatchi Collection, before joining the esteemed foundation of Siggi and Sissi Loch, Strandbild 10 - Night in Tunisia II has been exhibited widely in many significant international venues. Beginning with the seminal joint survey at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf in 1981 with fellow German artist, Gerhard Richter, the painting has also featured in a solo show at the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris (1996-1997).

In his Strandbild, Baselitz presents seated or reclining figures posed in obscure or impossible attitudes. A companion piece in the collection of the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Frau am Strand. Night in Tunisia, 1980, depicts a similarly suspended female figure facing downwards, although painted in a haunting grey-black palette. The same year that Baselitz embarked on his series of Strandbild, he achieved international notoriety when he exhibited his first large-scale sculptural work (Modell für eine Skulptur (Model for a Sculpture), 1979-1980) in the West German Pavilion at the 1980 Venice Biennale. Attacking blocks of limewood with chainsaw, axe and chisel, Baselitz engendered a deliberately crude and rough surface, seeking the “primitive and [the] brutal” in his first foray into three-dimensional modeling (G. Baselitz, quoted in D. Waldman, Georg Baselitz, exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 1995, p. 97). Painted contemporaneously to the execution and reception of Modell für eine Skulptur, the Strandbild demonstrate Baselitz’s growing interest in integrating aspects of his sculptural practice into his two-dimensional work. With its graphic shading and coarsely defined silhouette, the figure in Strandbild 10 - Night in Tunisia II possesses a weight and tactility more often associated with sculpture than painting. Such a ‘primitivization’ of shape was influenced no doubt by Pablo Picasso’s anti-academic, Cubist compositions and simplification of volume, and inspired by the painter’s fascination with African art forms. In Strandbild 10 - Night in Tunisia II Baselitz entreats his viewer to experience the figure’s contours as though a traditional wood-hewn sculpture, each plane articulated by blocks of conflicting color.

The painting of Strandbild 10 - Night in Tunisia II coincided with Baselitz’s arrival on the world stage. Having been almost completely subsumed since the end of the Second World War by Abstract Expressionism, the international art world began to pay attention to what they dubbed ‘Neo-Expressionism’: the reinvention of the lost art of figurative painting, characterized by its apparent links to German Expressionism and the works of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Edvard Munch, and Emil Nolde. Hailed as the father of this new art form, Baselitz was both critically acclaimed and censured for his nonconformist approach to representational painting, printmaking and sculpture. Yet, the artist has vehemently refuted any attempt to categorize his work, stating, “I have never had any relationship with Expressionism. In fact, I have always wondered why it was so alien to me. The reason is that the Expressionists use a method that illustrates our environment, the world we live in. They use what exists; they extract from it an illustrative method of making a painting. Everything is linked…I have always invented the objects and the various figurations that I wanted to show. I have never had a model” (G. Baselitz, “Georg Baselitz in conversation with Jean-Louis Froment and Jean-Marc Poinsot” in G. Baselitz, D. Gretenkort (ed.), Collected Writings and Interviews, London, 2010, pp. 68-69). Baselitz’s formal disobedience finds its subject in Strandbild 10 - Night in Tunisia II, in which the artist dispenses with the illusionistic device of perspective. Projecting an avant-garde approach to figuration that draws on his own sculptural investigations, the painting presents an emotive, primordial composition that is nonetheless progressive, revolutionary and subversive in its execution.

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