Georg Baselitz (b. 1938)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF FRANZ MEYER AND PIA MEYER FEDERSPIEL
Georg Baselitz (b. 1938)

Vier Hände (Four Hands)

Georg Baselitz (b. 1938)
Vier Hände (Four Hands)
signed with the artist's initials and dated '20.X 84 GB' (lower left); signed, titled and dated '14.X.84 + 20.X.84 'vier Hände' G Baselitz' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
63 7/8 x 51 1/8in. (162.3 x 129.7cm.)
Painted in 1984
Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne.
Franz Meyer, Zurich (acquired from the above in 1984).
Pia Meyer Federspiel, Zurich.
Thence by descent to the present owner.
A. Franzke, Georg Baselitz, Munich 1989, p. 266, no. 182 (illustrated in colour, p. 217).
D. Gretenkort (ed.), Georg Baselitz – Paintings 1962-2001, Milan 2002 (illustrated in colour, p. 120).
Cologne, Galerie Michael Werner, Georg Baselitz: Zehn Bilder, 1984, no. 5 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
Ingelheim am Rhein, Jubiläumshaus, 28. Internationale Tage in Ingelheim am Rhein, 100 Jahre Kunst aus Deutschland 1885-1985, 1985.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.

Brought to you by

Alexandra Werner
Alexandra Werner

Lot Essay

‘These works spring more directly from the use of paint and are more expressive, and above all more colourful, than Baselitz’s previous paintings. The individual brushstroke is emphasized: it not only structures the pictorial layout, it also contributes substantially to the increasing forcefulness with which the thematic idea is handled and the individual motif developed and varied.’ – Andreas Franzke

‘You can seduce with colour.’ – Georg Baselitz

Georg Baselitz’s oil painting Vier Hände (Four Hands), 1984, is a reach across the void. Vier Hände was acquired by Franz Meyer, the former director of the Kunsthalle Bern and the Kunstmuseum Basel, and a friend and support of Baselitz. Meyer and his wife Pia have held the work in their collection since they purchased it in 1984. Set against an enigmatic blackness, two sets of arms extend towards one another, fingertips just barely touching. One arm from each pair is painted a luminous green while the other is coral pink. Baselitz’s paint is thickly and expressively applied; every brushstroke, smear and swirl contributing to a robust accumulation of tone and texture. Compositionally, Vier Hände looks back to P.D Fuss, 1960-1963, a series of isolated and dismembered feet. Painted during the height of the Cold War, this grotesque and brutal series of paintings can be read as a response to the trauma of World War II and serve as a vision for a post-apocalyptic world. Vier Hände, too, is otherworldly but it also remains a fundamentally empathetic painting, four hands seeking out one another, hoping to commune. For Baselitz, colour is never decorative but instead always central to his rich iconography. Vier Hände was painted when Baselitz was being celebrated as the leading example of German Neo-Expressionism, an association he disavowed: ‘People were starting to say that my works had a link with German Expressionism. In fact this only applies to the way I handle the canvas, my manual use of the canvas’, he claimed. ‘I have never had any relationship with Expressionism’ (G. Baselitz, quoted in D. Waldman, Georg Baselitz, exh. cat. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 1995, p. 149). In spite of his denial, he clearly shares with Die Brücke an engagement with Fauvist and Primitivist aesthetics, and a belief in the emotive power of vivid colours; Baselitz’s approach is in essence chromatic. By the mid-1980s, this negotiation was at its most acute, and he pushed his colour palette towards new extremes. Curator Danilo Eccher wrote, ‘Baselitz’s art is a subtle search for truth, it is the painstaking analysis of a pictorial language and its formal motions, it also abandons itself to the emotions of an image that is to be discovered and succumbs to a mysterious enchantment’ (D. Eccher, ‘Georg Baselitz: in Praise of Painting,’ Baselitz, Milan, 1997, p. 39). Indeed, Vier Hände is absent a traditional viewpoint and its formal arrangement echoes Baselitz’s signature inversion of the canvas, which he began employing in the 1960s. By painting upside down, Baselitz brought to the fore questions of how value and meaning are constructed, and the ways in which a symbol’s significance can be destabilized. By turning his paintings upside down, Baselitz subverts he impulse to create a narrative, instead opening the image to new interpretations and perceptions. In the beginning of the 1980s, Baselitz’s canvases intensified in their concentration on the expressive brushstroke, and of the works created during this period, art historian Andreas Franzke wrote, ‘He no longer subordinates the motif to a dynamism rooted in gestural impulses and leading to more or less radical disregard of representational criteria, but pursues a process of concentration’ (A. Franzke, Georg Baselitz, Munich 1989, p. 156). These evocative and colourful canvases hum with vitality in playful and surprising ways. In Vier Hände the bold, dense paint deliberately frustrates the serene embrace of the hands; it is a painting infused with vigour. Vier Hände is, as such, an enthusiastic grasp towards the unknown.

More from Post War and Contemporary Art Day Auction

View All
View All