Five False Facts From That Georg Baselitz Interview

by Corinna Kirsch on January 31, 2013 · 2 comments Newswire

Everyone’s up in arms about that Georg Baselitz interview in Der Spiegel where he reveals himself to be a woman-hater. In a separate interview last year, he made himself out to be just as crotchety an old man, dropping appalling epithets. This time around, he calls all women bad painters. Inexcusable.

Overall, the interview is pretty much a farce. It’s full of untruths, some seemingly fabricated out of thin air. Let’s go over a few of them.

1. Germany’s National Gallery doesn’t collect or show Georg Baselitz’s work?

From the interview:

Baselitz: They [the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the MoMA in New York and the Reina Sofia in Madrid] collect what’s important in their respective countries. In Berlin’s National Gallery, however, this isn’t the case. They’re interested neither in me nor the other usual suspects. It’s simply a German reality.

1. Answer: False-ish.
There’s a very good explanation for why Berlin’s National Gallery doesn’t collect Georg Baselitz’s art: its primary focus is on 20th century art, not contemporary. However, Baselitz doesn’t need to feel left out; he did have a retrospective there in 1995, and there’s dozens of other German institutions that do collect his art. Here’s the complete list:

Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen, Kunstmuseum Walter im Glaspalast, Augsburg, ALTANA Kulturstiftung im Sinclair-Haus, Bad Homburg, Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden, Berlinische Galerie, Berlin, Daimler Contemporary, Berlin, Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Städtische Galerie Bietigheim-Bissingen, Bietigheim-Bissingen, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Bonn, Weserburg | Museum für moderne Kunst, Bremen, Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, Chemnitz, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Museum Ostwall im Dortmunder U, Dortmund, Galerie Neue Meister – Albertinum, Dresden, MKM Museum Küppersmühle für Moderne Kunst, Duisburg, Kunstpalais Erlangen, Erlangen, Museum Folkwang Essen, Essen, Städel Museum, Frankfurt/Main, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Sprengel Museum Hannover, Hannover, MARTa Herford, Herford, Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern, Kaiserslautern, Städtische Galerie Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Kunsthalle zu Kiel, Kiel, Museum Würth, Künzelsau, Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen, Museum Brandhorst, Munich, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Kunstmuseum Mülheim an der Ruhr, Mülheim/Ruhr, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Museum Wiesbaden, Wiesbaden, Museum Villa Haiss, Zell a.H.

2. Baselitz doesn’t get written about in the press?

From the interview:
SPIEGEL: Gallery owners and collectors are both crazy about you, and museums are constantly singing your praises.

Baselitz: But not the media.

SPIEGEL: Come now, you’re written about often.

Baselitz: Is that so? I’ve had some major exhibitions abroad lately, and yet there was hardly a word in the FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung), for example. And that was only because I had previously said that the relevant editors at the FAZ suffered from pandemic mental enfeeblement… I received the graphics prize at Art Cologne three years ago. Before that, it had been awarded to people who undoubtedly deserved recognition, such as Sigmar Polke. But, in my case, the FAZ wrote that it was a petty cash prize.

2. Answer: False. Sure, FAZ noted that he had received a “petty cash prize,” but just a few months after that, FAZ came back and wrote about Baselitz’s work at Art Cologne. Obviously, they didn’t mind mentioning him after the “petty cash prize” incident.

As for other press mentions, just take a look at the artist’s CV on Galerie Thaddeus Ropac’s site. He’s doing just fine.

3. Does Baselitz or any other German artist pay 100 million Euro in taxes?

From the interview:
Baselitz: And he [Richter] certainly pays more taxes than I do. Despite all the taxes people pay, there supposedly isn’t any money in this country for art. Of course, this makes an artist ask himself: “Well, then, what are you doing with the 100 million I pay each year? What happened to that money?” And he doesn’t get an answer.

3. Answer: False.
The German income tax rate ranges from 0 to 45%. If an artist were to pay 100 million Euro in taxes at a rate of 45%, he’d be bankrolling 222 million Euro a year. [For reference, that number is just over Damien Hirst’s net worth, 215 million, as of 2010. Hirst is the richest living artist.] Baselitz’s highest priced work at auction, Spekulatius (1965) went for the hammer price of  $4,554,585 in 2011. Baselitz didn’t get a cut from that, but even if he did, the amount of money his work garners still remains far off anywhere near the $100 million in taxes range.

4. Women don’t make for great painters?

From the interview:
Baselitz: Women don’t paint very well. It’s a fact. There are, of course, exceptions. Agnes Martin or, from the past, Paula Modersohn-Becker. I feel happy whenever I see one of her paintings. But she is no Picasso, no Modigliani and no Gauguin.

SPIEGEL: So women supposedly don’t paint very well.

Baselitz: Not supposedly. And that despite the fact that they still constitute the majority of students in the art academies.

4. Answer: True-ish.
Exceptions refute the rule about women not painting well. But Baselitz is right about one thing: nobody’s the same, so of course Modersohn-Becker’s no Picasso. He’s not a Modersohn-Becker either.

5. Women are good at science and male artists are idiots?

From the interview:
Baselitz: Male artists often border on idiocy, while it’s important for a woman not to be that way, if possible. Women are outstanding in science, just as good as men.

5. Answer: True, idiocy has no gender bias.



Dr. Preston February 1, 2013 at 12:44 am

Who is this guy?

Brian Sherwin February 6, 2013 at 5:59 am

Georg Baselitz turned me down when I requested an interview years ago. It would have went out to 40,000+ newsletter subscribers at that time. After that I had the opportunity to interview Sylvia Sleigh, one of her last interviews — if not the last — with the help of her assistant. She had a lot of health problems at that time… but her responses were brilliant. 🙂

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