A monumental three-figure sculpture by Georg Baselitz goes on view in London, at the V&A from next week. Baselitz is one of Germany’s most celebrated living artists. The sculpture will be installed in the John Madejski Garden a complementary setting for the piece. The work has been created in response to Antonio Canova’s neoclassical sculpture The Three Graces (1814-1817) recently redisplayed at the V&A. Baselitz’s Untitled (2013), standing over 3.5 meters high, is a contemporary twist on Canova’s carved marble figure group.
Based on a childhood memory of three promenading village beauties, the maidens in Baselitz’s latest sculptural work introduce the traditional themes of The Three Graces; beauty, charm and joy, but are depicted linking arms and wearing high heels. The surface of Baselitz’s bronze figure group contrasts with that of Canova’s smooth marble forms by purposefully retaining the rough texture of his initial wood model from which the final artwork has been cast.
Untitled (2013) is part of a series of wooden and, more recently, bronze sculptures created by Baselitz over the last 30 years, produced whilst still working on his paintings. They are inspired by African sculpture, medieval carvings and folk art.
Georg Baselitz (born 1938) has had a distinguished career spanning over fifty years and is acclaimed for his provocative paintings as well as for his large scale sculptures. In the 1960s Baselitz emerged as a pioneer of German Neo-Expressionist painting, and was later recognised for his ‘upside-down’ paintings which engaged with the artifice of painting. Drawing on an eclectic range of influences, including art of the Mannerist period, African sculpture and Soviet Realism, Baselitz developed a distinct visual language. In 1979 Baselitz made his first sculptures in wood for which he employed an elemental and deliberately more crude technique.
He has exhibited widely including solo shows at Musée Cantini, Marseille (2011), Tennis Palace Art Museum, Helsinki (2010), Galerie Neue Meister und Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister der Staatlichen Kunstsammlung Dresden (2009),
Kunsthalle Baden-Baden (2009), Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donna Regina, Naples (2008), the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2007), Louisiana Museum, Humlebæk (2006), Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1997) and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1995). Group shows include, Royal Academy, London (2011), Kunstmuseum Basel (2008), Venice Biennial (2007), the Stedelijk, Amsterdam (2001) and Documenta 7 (1982).
Georg Baselitz installation at the V&A 15 June – 8 September 2013 Lent by the artist and supported by White Cube