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George Baselitz was born to a school-teacher couple as Hans-Georg Kern in Deutschbaselitz, Saxony on January 23, 1938. He started calling himself after his hometown at the age of 18 in 1956. He was educated at Volksschule and Gymnasium, Kamenz until 1955. He studied art at the Kunstakademie, East Berlin 1956-57, under Hans Trier, Akademie der Kunste, West Berlin from 1957 to 1964. He was married in 1962 and has two sons, Daniel and Anton. His wife, Elke, has been his most enduring model for over thirty years.
It was at the East Berlin Academy of Fine Arts (Kunstakademie) that Baselitz began thinking independently. He recounts that he started seeing through the propaganda behind the building of the Berlin Wall, and the East German workers' uprising, etc. He began realizing that the whole system was a fraud, a house of cards based on deception and corruption. About a year later, he was suspended from the academy on grounds that he was "socio-politically immature."
He had to work hard to support himself - in a brewery, in a warehouse and in a plastics factory. After a year or so he began painting in his own way, against the prevailing trend in West Germany and Western Europe as well as America - figuratively.
Baselitz' paintings tend to confuse the viewer, distorting the organized mechanisms of visual perception. His works repudiate "Paintings with images." There is little suggestion of story or description. He is best known for his "upside-down" images, and any temptation to dismiss them as gimmicky was quelled by his early work, which clarified the process by which te artist has achieved a balance between abstraction and figuration.
Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.
Contemporary Artists, 2nd edition
Janet Kutner inARTnews, May 1998
Susan Kandel and Elizabeth Hayt-Atkins in ARTnews, March 1988
The Artist Who Came In From the Cold by Dornberg, ARTnews, October 1992