Georg Baselitz, “Maniera” (2019), oil and gold varnish on canvas, 64 15/16 x 35 1/16 inches (© Georg Baselitz, photo © Jochen Littkemann, Berlin, all images courtesy White Cube)
LONDON — There is a no-holds-barred, let’s-smash-up-the-kitchen-boys, bestial uproaringness about the early work of Georg Baselitz.
And much of this is in evidence in his treatment of hands and feet. The West German police seized an early painting called “The Big Night Down the Drain” (1962-63) — it was on display in his very first exhibition in West Berlin — on the grounds of obscenity.
And, yes, it is very easy to regard this early painting as obscene. It is offensive. It is ugly. It is nasty in the extreme. It is cocking a snook at any manifestation of refinement that might just happen along. It is tearing up the rule book. It is saying: the new art is like this, take it or leave it.