28 January - 18 July 2021
Georg Baselitz: Pivotal Turn displays six landmark paintings gifted by the artist to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in honor of its 150th anniversary. Made in 1969, they are among the first works in which Georg Baselitz (b. 1938) employed the strategy of inversion, an approach that continues to be of interest to him. The paintings mark a critical moment in the artist’s career as he sought to expunge narrative content and expression—elements present in his earlier work—in order to focus on painting itself. To achieve this, Baselitz began representing his subjects upside down and embraced traditional genres that he had previously avoided, including nudes, landscapes, and portraits. The compositional and conceptual conceit of upending the figures fundamentally destabilizes the viewer’s perspective and, by extension, thwarts our ability to firmly identify narrative, content type, and artistic tradition. This group of portraits, which includes the first-ever painting of his wife, Elke, provides a rare opportunity to study a pivotal moment of artistic innovation.