© The Artist and The Paragon Press
The Rod (Die Rute)
Woodcut printed from two blocks in blue and yellow, no. 20 out of an edition of 25.
From the series of five entitled Remix, printed in a variety of colour ways and published by The Paragon Press in 2007.
Given by Charles Booth-Clibborn in honour of the directorship of Duncan Robinson, 2007
Baselitz's long career as painter, draughtsman, printmaker and sculptor has been punctuated by works that form a culmination, followed by a period of rethinking and renewal. His canvases and prints are often on a monumental scale with a visceral quality both in relation to their often disturbing subject matter and in the physical qualities of their surface. His recent woodcuts show his awareness of printmaking of the past, and also his tactile experience as a sculptor.
From the 1960s to 80s Baselitz was well-known for his figure subjects, which from 1969 were famously inverted. The subjects were often anti-heroes referring to the troubled history of Germany in the twentieth century, particularly from the period of the Third Reich - 'What I could never escape was Germany, and being German', he said. After German reunification in 1990 his work became more sentimental, dwelling on his childhood and home in the former East German province of Saxony. In the recent series of Remix paintings, drawings and prints, Baselitz revisited more provocative aspects of his own history, making new interpretations of works with the perspective of later experience. These prints belong to a group of works that 'remixed' Baselitz's 'Heroes' and 'New Types' subjects of 1965-6. He explained that 'If you're remixing popular music you change the rhythm or the sound...What I do is something entirely different. I have thought for a long time about what to call what I do. I liked the word 'remix' because it comes from youth culture'. This interest in youth culture reflects the influence of the Young British Artists (Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, etc.), who he felt 'opened everything up', freeing him 'to paint more scandalously than ever before'. The Remix versions are thus more spontaneous and overt than the works that they transform: '[back then] I was thinking about the Third Reich, about the German past, [but] now I've steered the picture more in this direction; now you can see Adolf better...'.
This directness is particularly the case in these woodcuts, where the abrupt handling of the medium (reflecting his tactile experience as a sculptor) contributes to the visceral quality of the depiction. In this series there is a further 'remixing' in that each subject was printed in a variety of alternative colours.