Akt Elke

  • 1977
  • Georg Baselitz
  • oil on canvas
  • 252,5 x 202,2 x 3,7 cm (incl. lijst)
  • Location not on view.
  • Acquired in 1977
  • Inventory number 811

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This painting by the German artist Georg Baselitz consists of a white background with broad and colourful brushstrokes of paint. The top-left corner is painted a bright orange colour towards the centre and below this, black and cobalt blue have been applied with broad brushstrokes. A nude woman is painted in shades of brown and grey against this background. She is shown upside-down.

Baselitz wished to show “painting as painting”. He wanted to make paintings without a content in which colour and form provide the real meaning. Nevertheless, his work did not lack figurative significance. He merely put the paintings upside-down to change the meaning. When you see the strokes of paint and the spots that have dried up, you can see that the paintings must actually have been painted upside down and were not simply hung on the wall upside down. According to Baselitz, painting is about the act of painting itself, not about what is being painted. The themes that Baselitz chose as a starting point for his work were often “ordinary”: a nude, a still life, trees, an eagle. In other words, these are all objects which have been painted countless times. However, by showing them upside down they become unrecognizable.

In order to emphasize the sensory effect of the paint and the act of painting, Baselitz applied the paint with broad brushes using a loose and vehement style – in fact, he also often painted with his fingers. He liked full, broadly conceived works as can be seen in 'Akt Elke'. Baselitz is sometimes defined as a Neo-Expressionist because of his way of working. The painters in that movement expressed their thoughts and feelings directly. As he considered that his work should be seen separately from its meaning, it is also related to conceptual art.

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