On view as part of the broader offering of works surrounding the Venice Biennale this summer, painter Georg Baselitz has brought forth a body of new and recent works to bear on the halls of the Museo Palazzo Grimani, continuing a long and fruitful series of shows and projects in the city. Baselitz, who previously was the subject of a major retrospective at the Gallerie dell’Accademia during the last Biennale in 2019, here continues his recent adventures into bright colors, abstracted brushstrokes, and new iterations of his familiar formats and images.
Curated by Mario Codognato, the exhibition features new and recent works by the German artist. Titled Archinto, the show occupies the piano nobile of Palazzo Grimani with twelve canvases conceived for the Sala del Portego to dialogue with the Eighteenth-century architecture and decorations. Here, Baselitz homages Venice and its long-lasting artistic tradition, staging both a continuity and a breakup compared to it, specifically to the typical Renaissance portrait genre. The exhibition’s title draws inspiration from Titian’s enigmatic portrait of Cardinal Filippo Archinto, and takes Baselitz’s own modes of portraiture and interpretation of the human form as the central conceit. Throughout, the human body is placed into a series of evolving dialogues. Baselitz’s trademark inverted figures appear in a range of iterations, from their familiar contexts on painted canvases, to new versions, posed in three-dimensional space hanging on the walls of the Palazzo.
Baselitz treats these forms as the unifying concept here, and the rest of the works on view seem to gradually surge forth from this initial rendering of the body. In some works, he depicts sets of bodies, clearly rendered in his flowing, expressive hand, utilizing jagged lines and decisive movements, while others seem to bury and embellish the form under a series of more complex, interlocking lines in a range of colors. Other works reduce this same interplay to mere line work, as if the body was gradually fading from view only to reappear elsewhere, in some cases completely liberated from the canvas. These works make much of the context of the Archinto portrait, which obscures its subject behind a transparent veil. Baselitz’s project here poses the body not as a form itself, but as the product of a union of foreground and background, of compositional strokes and the space around them. Rendering both on a flat plane, he brings the body’s relation to its environment into stark focus.
The show closes November 27th.
– D. Creahan
Georg Baselitz at Palazzo Grimani [Exhibition Site]