In Pictures: Georg Baselitz Pairs His Paintings With Old Masters—Especially Nudes—for a Museum Show in Vienna

To celebrate his 85th birthday, Baselitz shows five decades of his own work with that of 40 Old Masters.

"Baselitz: Naked Masters" exhibition view. © KHM-Museumsverband

“Like wallpaper for the Old Masters, that’s what my pictures shall be,” painter Georg Baselitz said about his current show at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, in which he engages in a visual dialogue with artists including Lucas Cranach, Titian, Peter Paul Rubens, and the Mannerists (who painted at the court of Emperor Rudolph II, focusing on the nude figure).

“The concept of the exhibition is also a new highlight in Georg Baselitz‘s exhibition history,” said director general Sabine Haag in a statement. “He immediately chose a direct encounter of his works with the works of the Old Masters, in particular Mannerism. Frame by frame, opposite, above and below each other, in the same rooms, in the same visual axes.”

The German painter selected 73 of his own works, dating from the past five decades, to intersperse with 40 works from the museum. It includes loans from renowned institutions such as the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; the Albertina, Vienna; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. 

“Baselitz: Naked Masters” exhibition view. © KHM-Museumsverband

“The works are about the nudity of the painter and his wife, Elke, who has always been his only model to this day,” curator Andreas Zimmermann said a press release. “They include the late pictures—up to four meters wide—that address physicality and age, which are striking in their concomitant fragility and monumentality. The works shown in the exhibition are also a document to the painter’s mutability: finger paintings, bold brushstrokes, pictures that are light as a feather, and, most recently, collages. The element of surprise, the perpetual re-discovery of the method of painting is one of the core structural principles in the artist’s oeuvre.”

The show is open until June 25. See more images from it below.

Frans Floris, The Last Judgement, 1565. Museum Vienna, Picture Gallery. © KHM-Museumsverband

Georg Baselitz, Where To, 2017. Munich, Wittelsbacher Ausgleichsfonds. © Georg Baselitz 2023, photo Jochen Littkemann, Berlin.

Titian and workshop, Diana and Callisto, ca. 1566. Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Picture Gallery. © KHM-Museumsverband

“Baselitz: Naked Masters” exhibition view. © KHM-Museumsverband

Georg Baselitz, Nylon Parade, 2022. Private collection. © Georg Baselitz 2023, photo: Jochen Littkemann, Berlin.

Lucas Cranach the Elder, The Fall: Adam, 1510/20. Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Picture Gallery. © KHM-Museumsverband.

Georg Baselitz, Finger Painting – Female Nude, 1972. Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. © Georg Baselitz 2023, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, photo: Finn Brøndum.

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