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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… 显示更多 TWO MASTERPIECES BY GEORG BASELITZ FROM THE HESS ART COLLECTION

Frau Paganismus (Mrs Paganism)

Frau Paganismus (Mrs Paganism)
incised with the artist’s initials and date ‘G.B. 28.II.94’ (lower inside right arm)
Ayous wood and synthetic resin
sculpture: 85 5/8 x 51 7/8 x 26 3/4in. (215 x 132 x 68cm.)
base: 15 x 68 3/4 x 68 3/8in. (38.1 x 174.6 x 173.7cm.)
Executed in 1994
Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1994.
D. Kuspit, ‘Goth to Dance’, in Artforum International, Summer 1995 (illustrated in colour, p. 78).
E. Darragon, Baselitz à Paris, exh. cat., Paris, Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, 1996 (illustrated, p. 33).
Baselitz, exh. cat., Bologna, Galleria d’Arte Moderna di Bologna, 1997 (studio view illustrated in colour, p. 131).
Georg Baselitz: Portraits of Elke, exh. cat., Fort Worth, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 1997-1999, p. 25 (titled ‘Mrs. Paganismus’, illustrated in colour, p. 26).
E. Darragon, ‘Baselitz avec sculpture’, in De la sculpture au XXe siècle, Grenoble 2001, p. 130 (illustrated in colour, p. 126).
L. Cuénoud (ed.), Georg Baselitz Works from the Hess Collection, Bern 2003, pp. 4, 48 and 58 (detail illustrated in colour on the front and back cover; studio view illustrated in colour, p. 51; illustrated in colour, pp. 59-61; translated 'Pagan woman').
Hess Art Collection, Ostfildern 2009, p. 50 (studio view illustrated in colour, p. 55).
C. Kraus (ed.), Georg Baselitz: Skulpturen / Sculptures, Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculptures, Berlin 2009, no. 48 (illustrated in colour, pp. 170-171).
T. Jean (ed.), ‘Baselitz sculpteur au musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris’, in BeauxArts, 2011, p. 23 (illustrated in colour, p. 22).
B. Vasseur (ed.), Georg Baselitz, Paris 2011, p. 36 (illustrated in colour, p. 37).
R. Calvocoressi (ed.), Georg Baselitz, London 2021, pp. 280 and 291 (illustrated in colour, p. 290).
London, Anthony d’Offay Gallery, Frau Paganismus, 1994, pp. 8-10, 27 and 45 (studio view illustrated, p. 3; illustrated in colour, pp. 29, 31 and 33; details illustrated, pp. 30 and 32; studio view illustrated in colour, p. 44).
London, Anthony d’Offay Gallery, Sculpture, 1995, p. 111, no. 4 (unpaged, illustrated in colour).
New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Georg Baselitz, 1995, pp. 118 and 273, no. 111 (studio view illustrated in colour, p. 116; illustrated in colour, p. 117). This exhibition later travelled to Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Washington, D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution; Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Preussischer Kulturbesitz.
Luxembourg, Casino Luxembourg, Forum d’art contemporain, New Works from the Hess Collection, 1998, p. 8 (illustrated in colour, p. 9).
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno, Georg Baselitz en la Colección Hess, 2003-2004, pp. 48 and 58 (detail illustrated in colour on the front and back cover; studio view illustrated in colour, p. 51; illustrated in colour, pp. 59-61). This exhibition later travelled to Bern, Kunstmuseum Bern.
Lausanne, Fondation de l'Hermitage, Baselitz, une seule passion, la peinture, 2006, pp. 138 and 166, no. 71 (illustrated in colour, pp. 91 and 139).
Lugano, Museo d’Arte Moderna, Georg Baselitz, 2007, no. 84 (unpaged, illustrated in colour).
Paris, Musée D’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Baselitz-Sculpteur, 2011-2012, pp. 126 and 167, no. 30 (illustrated in colour, pp. 119 and 127; studio view illustrated in colour, p. 166).
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. Please note that at our discretion some lots may be moved immediately after the sale to our storage facility at Momart Logistics Warehouse: Units 9-12, E10 Enterprise Park, Argall Way, Leyton, London E10 7DQ. At King Street lots are available for collection on any weekday, 9.00 am to 4.30 pm. Collection from Momart is strictly by appointment only. We advise that you inform the sale administrator at least 48 hours in advance of collection so that they can arrange with Momart. However, if you need to contact Momart directly: Tel: +44 (0)20 7426 3000 email: This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice. Christie’s has a direct financial interest in this lot. Christie’s has guaranteed to the seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee.


Michelle McMullan
Michelle McMullan Head of Evening Sale


Held in the Hess Art Collection for almost three decades, Frau Paganismus (Mrs Paganism) (1994) is a masterpiece of monumental sculpture by Georg Baselitz. Towering over two metres high, the female torso looms like an ancient idol. Carved with chainsaw, axe and chisel from one colossal piece of wood, her surface is hewn into rough planes and lacerated fissures. Daubs of bright red pigment mark her face, buttocks and breasts, heightening the sculpture’s raw, primal presence. Frau Paganismus is the largest among a group of ten red-painted sculptures Baselitz created in the mid-1990s: related heads and torsos from the series are in important museum collections, including Männlicher Torso (1993, Nationalgalerie Berlin), Ding mit Arm (1993, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg), Sonderling (1993, Museum Küppersmühle, Duisburg) and Rautenkopf (1993, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich). Included in his landmark first American retrospective, which opened at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1995, the sculpture was also a highlight of the major 2011-2012 exhibition Baselitz – Sculpteur at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Exemplifying Baselitz’s bold reimagining of sculpture—a crucial strand of his work that complements his iconoclastic approach to painting—she cuts a visceral, vital figure. For Baselitz, the idea of paganism invokes an elemental endurance, strength and even potential redemption buried deep in his country’s past: it also speaks to the drive for positive disruption, or heresy, that lies at the heart of his artistic practice.

Donald M. Hess, a Swiss-born entrepreneur, winery magnate and collector, acquired Frau Paganismus from London’s Anthony d’Offay Gallery in 1994. An admirer of Baselitz’s work since the 1970s, Hess shared a warm friendship with the artist, the two bonding over their common interests in gardening, grand old houses and Great Danes. Hess also respected Baselitz—who owns an impressive personal collection of African sculpture, French and Italian Mannerist art, books, antique furniture and work by his artist friends—as a discerning fellow collector. Startled by Frau Paganismus at first sight, he quickly came to appreciate it as a work of great beauty. ‘In my imagination,’ Hess wrote, ‘Frau Paganismus could well be a Celtic warrior’s woman—one who always accompanied him to war. She is strong, powerful and brave and has even lost an arm in battle whilst fighting beside her warrior man’ (D. M. Hess, ‘Foreword’, in Georg Baselitz: Works from the Hess Collection, Berne 2003, p. 10).

Baselitz first made his name as a painter. His ‘fracture’ paintings, upside-down paintings and ‘Heroes’—radical works whose formal disturbances reflected the unstable, fragmented identity of post-war Germany—had won him acclaim and infamy since their beginnings in the 1960s. It was not until 1979 that he began work on his first sculpture. In 1975 he and his wife had moved to Schloss Derneburg, a vast castle in Lower Saxony that would be their home for the next three decades. In these liberating environs—his first-floor studio had ceilings twelve metres high—he was able to work on a larger scale than ever before, and began experimenting with monumental linocuts and woodcuts. The subtractive process of carving these bold, graphic surfaces in turn led to his first sculpted work, Modell für eine Skulptur (Model for a Sculpture) (1979-1980, Museum Ludwig, Cologne), commissioned for the German pavilion at the 1980 Venice Biennale. Irregular, jagged and coarse in facture—like the present work, the one-armed figure was cut from a single wooden block—it set the stage for a sculptural practice as stridently non-conformist as his paintings. ‘When I took up a piece of wood,’ Baselitz said, ‘it wasn’t because I wanted to go along with the piece of wood but to confront the piece of wood. This is working against the grain, and it applies to all the fields in which I operate: drawing, painting, structure, colour, texture’ (G. Baselitz in conversation with J-L. Froment and J-M. Poinsot, 1983, in D. Gretenkort (ed.), Georg Baselitz: Collected Writings & Interviews, London 2010, p. 72).

The rest of the 1980s saw Baselitz produce an array of full-length sculptures and busts, their vibrant colours and totemic forms informed by his interest in Edvard Munch and Die Brücke. In 1989-1990 he created a celebrated series of large, yellow-painted heads known as the Dresdner Frauen (Women of Dresden), commemorating the ‘rubble women’ who helped clear and rebuild bombed German cities during World War II. With the red-painted group to which Frau Paganismus belongs, he took the intensity of his sculpture to new heights, their daubed, fragmented features evocative of violence, vitality and ritual. Created at a moment of mounting international recognition—preparations were underway for the 1995-1996 retrospective, in which the work would tour the United States—Frau Paganismus was Baselitz’s most complex, dynamic and imposing sculpture yet, articulating some of the deepest themes of his practice in three vivid dimensions.

Frau Paganismus’ densely-worked surface bears the scars of a thousand cuts, ranging from horizontal, chainsawed lines to the angled bite of the chisel. Baselitz first envisioned her back as her front, before notching a spine down its centre and bringing her breasts round to the other side; a deep wedge hacks out a brow from what was the back of her head. Baselitz has explained his sculptural technique in graphic terms. ‘In sculpture, using the saw is an aggressive process which is the equivalent of drawing’, he says. ‘It’s a linear signal’ (G. Baselitz, op. cit., p. 79). Photographs from Derneburg show Frau Paganismus surrounded by a sprawl of woodchips, a chainsaw and carver’s mallet lying in the debris. Some fragments carry traces of red, indicating that—rather than the pigment being applied to the finished object—Baselitz’s brushwork was modified by carving and vice versa, in an ongoing interchange between sculpture and painting.

Baselitz’s dismembered sculptures relate closely to his use of fragmentation in painting. Frau Paganismus’ slashed planes, rough-hewn surface and missing limbs conjure the perspectival slicing of his ‘fracture’ paintings, and also the wounded ‘Heroes’ of 1964-1968. These maimed, ragged, wasteland-wandering figures pictured both the post-war desolation of German identity and a hope for its renewal. ‘Destruction appears everywhere,’ Diane Waldman writes of the ‘Heroes’, ‘but the figure, a phoenix rising from the ashes, is a survivor. Into this image of a Romantic, melancholy spirit, one may project the artist himself, as wanderer, poet, and painter attached to his bit of earth’ (D. Waldman, ‘Georg Baselitz: Art on the Edge’, in Georg Baselitz, exh. cat. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 1995, p. 38). Far from disintegrating, Frau Paganismus likewise exudes an aura of indomitable power. Her trunk and arm lean together like standing stones, emerging steadfast and upright through the artist’s onslaught.

Frau Paganismus’ echoes of totem and fetish reflect Baselitz’s profound admiration for African sculpture. While often described as ‘primitive’, he notes, these images of gods and ancestors ‘bear the mark of a high culture. They are a long way from natural form. They are inventions … One can think of many artists who have been fascinated by these very basic forms.’ Such potent ‘basic forms’ also have analogues in German soil. Baselitz feels a close affinity with the pair of mysterious, anthropomorphic wooden cult objects known as the Braak bog figures, around two thousand years old, that were found preserved in a peat bog in Ostholstein, not far from Derneburg, in 1947. Stylistically, he says, these effigies are his ‘kindred spirits’, and are ‘impossible to localise. They could be from Africa, from Egypt or from the Pacific’ (G. Baselitz in conversation with J-L. Froment and J-M. Poinsot, ibid., pp. 70, 72, 69).

For Baselitz, who grew up with a belief in the benevolent earth spirits of Sorbian mythology during his childhood in rural Saxony, such figures conjure the same positive ‘pagan’ aura explored in Frau Paganismus. ‘Germanic folklore revolves around pagan things that emanate from under the earth’, he said in 1995. ‘… I’ve always felt that if there really is such a thing as freedom—which is what people are looking for in religion—that it won’t come from the sky. I believe it will come from the earth, and that is where my work is rooted’ (G. Baselitz, quoted in K. McKenna, ‘Q&A with Georg Baselitz: Portrait of an Artist Still Trying to Grow’, Los Angeles Times, 14 October 1995). Rather than hoping for angels from above, Baselitz seeks a connection with the underworld.

By looking to ancient, polytheistic models, Baselitz furthers his career-long personal rebellion against all forms of orthodoxy. Frau Paganismus represents a rejection of the smooth surfaces and aesthetic polish of academic Western sculpture, which he sees as indebted to Christian tradition. Heinrich Heil notes that the term paganismus derives from ecclesiastical Latin, and ‘stands for the infiltration of heathen elements into the purity of doctrine’ (H. Heil, ‘Mrs P. Calls a Spade a Spade’, in Frau Paganismus, exh. cat. Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London 1994, p. 8). The work’s invocation of prehistoric, buried things represents an alternative mode of creation: something universal and eternal that might, with a reach through time, be brought back into the light.

While departing drastically from formal custom, then, Frau Paganismus remains grounded in a distinctly Teutonic lineage. Although she bears the impress of African sculpture, she might be seen to fit in a succession of expressive, disharmonic German art, from the Braak bog figures to Albrecht Dürer’s woodcuts and the nature-cult visions of Die Brücke. ‘[It] is true’, Baselitz admits, ‘that I place myself rather in the tradition of these savage Teutons, from Dürer to Kirchner, far from the refinement of the French and the Italians. As an artist, you have to accept the world to which you belong’ (G. Baselitz, quoted in A. Kramer, ‘Entretien avec Georg Baselitz’, in Baselitz sculpteur au musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris 2011, p. 14). Far from taking the world as he finds it, however, Baselitz draws on his inheritance to create something unique, radically new and fiercely disruptive. If Frau Paganismus unearths the spirits of the past, she also stands ready to endure whatever the future might hold.

Baselitz’s sculpture does have its twentieth-century precursors. Jean Dubuffet shared his interest in the ‘primitive’ and the art of the mentally ill; Pablo Picasso was famously inspired by African art, and, closer to home, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff looked to the same sources for their wooden sculptures. The existentialist Alberto Giacometti employed a violent technique in some of his plaster figures, attacking them with a pocket-knife and scoring their surfaces with paint. Clamdigger (1972), a vision of man emerging from primordial ooze by Baselitz’s hero Willem de Kooning, offers a particularly important touchstone. De Kooning’s bronzes, Baselitz observes, ‘don’t respect the principles of sculpture. They have no muscles, no skeletons, no skin … they are fantastic, very different, highly surprising’ (G. Baselitz in conversation with J-L. Froment and J-M. Poinsot, ibid., p. 79).

None of these artists, however, approached the figure in quite the way Baselitz does. In his defiance of convention, he refuses to assemble sculptures from multiple parts, or to build anything on an armature: he creates reductively, in physical opposition to a single block. Another of his demands—traceable from Modell für eine Skulptur through to the present work—is asymmetry, realised here by the sculpture’s missing arm. He has spoken of his interest in body-painting as practiced by tribes in Indonesia and the Amazon Basin, where asymmetrical designs work to distort and enhance the proportions of the human form. The red daubs of Frau Paganismus might gesture towards this idea. They invoke the red ochre of cave-paintings, and ignite her features in a way that echoes the exaggerated physiques of Palaeolithic fertility idols such as the Venus of Willendorf.

The massive scale of Frau Paganismus, too, sets her apart. Where monumental figuration was employed by fascist regimes to make statements of dominance, distance and supremacy—and to glorify narrow ideals of physical perfection—her body is instead enigmatic, incomplete, and uneven. The artist’s plinth raises her just thirty centimetres from the floor, placing her near to human height and inviting tactile engagement. The Düsseldorf-based sculptor Thomas Schütte’s Frauen (Women), commenced in the late 1990s, are inheritors of Baselitz’s approach to the monumental: they, too, recast figurative sculpture as protean and mutable, breaking free from its hegemonic associations. ‘There are figures that are exclamation marks’, Schütte has said, ‘and others that are question marks’ (T. Schütte, quoted in U. Loock, ‘Public Figures’, Frieze, February 2013).

Declaring its raw, wooden physicality, Frau Paganismus’ surface—for all the violence it has weathered—speaks ultimately to a wholeness ingrained in nature. Rather than disguising its organic origins, the hulk of timber asserts the mighty presence of the tree that birthed it. Like the hunters, hounds and woodsmen of Baselitz’s ‘fracture’ paintings, as well as the recurring motif of the forest itself—his very first upside-down painting, Der Wald auf dem Kopf (The Wood on its Head) (1969, Museum Ludwig, Cologne) featured such an image—the sculpture is imbued with his empathy for the natural world. Despite the physical trauma of war, and the ideological seizure of the German pastoral by nationalist rhetoric, the living realm of trees, roots and earth represents for Baselitz a powerful, regenerative force that can transcend recent history. Frau Paganismus rises tall and strong, rooted irrevocably to the ground from which she came.

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