when the grim reaper won’t leave

A bit problematic to be German. Still. The long arc of history is easily within an arm’s reach of the old Germany, tortured, and with a romantic sensibility of subject confronted with a bleak Germanism that marked the new realism. There is a protesting of the suppression of subject or a depiction of the toxic underside, which actually forms a conjunction, an inflection point amounting to the recycling of the old theme, reliable, Death Triumphant, a return to the familiar habitat of what is old, narrow and insidious. The haunting of death, newly minted specimens of death; death of the human spirit with all its decorative obedience, conformity, and order one would expect from the well administered,structurally precocious.

---In 1965, Baselitz began a new series of images, that encompassed the German “Hero” or “New Type”. He associated this series with heroism and sense of a radical future that was the experience of both Russian revolutionaries and German soldiers. It does not seem natural for a painter of heroism to focus on feet, but Baselitz fractures them, making them an independent motif. --- Read More:http://noyspi.com/baselitz.html

Donald Kuspit:Just as Kiefer’s empty landscapes and abandoned buildings are worlds of death, so Baselitz’s figures are personifications of death, indeed, embodiments of death-in-life. They may be heroic, but they are also wounded, like The New Type (1965). A monumental, conspicuously masculine figure — probably based on the statues of soldiers, memorials to the war dead as well as sculptural paeans to victory, that proliferated in Communist East Germany, where Baselitz grew up — he bears the sign of the stigmata on his left hand, suggesting that he has been socially stigmatized as well as crucified by history. Like many of Baselitz’s epic figures, the new type of man — an ironical synthesis of the new man Communism hoped to create as well as the old type of German epic hero who suffers and dies tragically — is a valiant victim, isolated in the wilderness that Germany had been reduced to by war. He remains brave and strong, suggesting that his German identity is intact, and he may still be able to have an erection, out of all proportion to his body, confirming his power. But his penis, however gigantic, is grotesquely misshapen, as though diseased, like the famous penis — it looks like a piece of whittled wood, suggesting that it is a prosthetic device, that is, the dildo of a eunuch — of the diseased little human monster in The Big Night Down the Drain (1962-63). (This seminal work, censored by the German police when it was first exhibited, shows the strong streak of satire in Baselitz’s works.) Baselitz’s figures are a critique of German masculinity, even as they mockingly endorse it. Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/kuspit7-28-06.asp

-...but the artist still conveys a traditional belief in male dominance and authority. For all of the subject's manneristic distortion and air of futility, he retains a certain grandeur. Indeed, the issue of whether Baselitz's "new man" was in fact the old Nazi Aryan type in tragic disguise continues to haunt the artist. But his decisive fragmentation obviously contradicts the Nazi version of the classical figure, rehabilitating expressionistic art and emphasizing the individual in a way that unequivocally damns National Socialism and mass society. For the artist, who took Artaud as an early role model, emotional disturbances are acts of rebellion against the forced, dreary collective life he experienced as a youth in East Germany (which, he has said, differed from Nazi Germany only in its uniforms).--- Read More:http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0268/is_5_41/ai_96223241/

So, we have all these variations on the theme of terror. Unthinkable anxiety mixed with sensuality and death. A holding, in suspense, like a vinyl record stuck, a traumatic moment caught between the nazi symbology of sensual red and traumatic infinity of black. An ecstasy that cannot overcome the distance, a wild form of inertia that is too fettered. It also returns to the issue, culturally, the sticking point of the predominance of structure over emotion, which seems to be a bacterial lair of the phenomenon of obedience. Structural elements built into the culture that suffocate feeling and perception. Like the Milgram experiment showing emotional paralysis in a dismal defense against domineering structure.

Searle:There is something magnificently horrible about Georg Baselitz's best work. And however scabrous, crude, blundering and libidinous it might appear, his art goes beyond the merely abrasive and rebarbative. Some artists' works are dumbed-down. Some are just dumb. Baselitz's are dumbed-up on purpose, and are much more accomplished than they look. Rather, it is the world he describes that is lumpen. Read More:http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2007/sep/18/art

There is obviously a powerlessness of the artist, who, though a valiant effort, cannot really articulate what cannot, even what should not be expressed. The guilt of the German psyche, as representation may even be a signifier of a compulsion to reinforce. To seek closure of unfinished business from a warehouse of the unconsciously stored  in an effort of catharsis, of purging intolerable old files. This split either results in illness or symbolic expression; the truths however, are too unfathomable to establish a complicity with them, even an antagonistic one. Instead, its a mass of guilt and shame, negative emotions, which are sublimated. So, thee is some banal narcissism at work here.

---Resurrexit, painted in 1973, depicts a seemingly abandoned forest road -- the trees are daubed with blood, the only living inhabitant is the primeval snake (bottom center), and juxtaposed above the forbidding woods, centered at the vanishing point of the road that could have very easily led to the site of a former death camp, there is a wooden staircase, on the steps of which is scrawled in graffiti the word "Resurrexit." Tellingly, above this at the top of the stairs, the door is shut tight. The painting is unreservedly bleak and points to the forces that move history to its unspeakable, unrepresentable excesses. According to Richter, "Kiefer's work is concerned with the Sisyphean task of working through history and its imbrications in the mythical: to attempt to come to terms with their ghostliness, but also to employ them as the vexed prime material out of which a thought may flow into artistic form"--- Read More:http://www.siue.edu/~ejoy/KiernanBarcilonText.htm

But, coming back to  German obedience and conformity, which appears to be a major source of conflict. There is a tradition of formless German romanticism facing the well documented factors of technical perfection and precision. It could be called stress and storm meet the quality of the rhapsody. The trains run on time, they just tend to run off the tracks at inopportune moments. The mystical and ironical, the utopian and anxiety laden, dare say hysterical fleeing into the arms of the nationalistic, tribal, self-critical and narcissistic. Underlying this is always the fear of insanity, of madness, of lunatism that might break out from being mad which pulls from the deep recesses of romanticism and early expressionism, the first baby steps of trusting the emotions and abandoning sober reason. …


DK: But there is something else going on. Let’s go back to the “Degenerate Art” show. I have this theory which I have written about. I argue that the Nazis were perceptive; they saw something that was there in the art; but what they did not understand what was there in the art was in the society. The artists were talking about – if you want – the degeneracy in the society: the savage etc. So the Nazis – in their corrupted notion

urity or Aryanism – felt threatened. They did not like the underside showing. They did not like their own underside showing – their own aggression, their barbarism. But there it was in the art, so they called it “degenerate” because it was threatening. It was threatening because it touched them on the inside. The fascinating thing about the Nazis is that they had a passion for art. Do you know the book “The Rape of Europa” [Lynn H. Nicholas 1995]?

DT: Yes. Göhering stole a lot of art.

DK: Hitler wanted to turn Linz his hometown and Berlin into big art centers. Speer assimilated a lot of Modernist ideas to make his art. He tried to subsume it, or dialectically sublate it – and some of the structures are still interesting like the Olympic stadium. Read More:http://dks.thing.net/Donald-Kuspit-Diane-Thodos.html

…DK: “The Authoritarian Personality of Adorno” [first published in 1950]. Part of the new Germany is to go against that authoritarianism. Transparency of government – that’s why the Reichstag has a glass dome. The young people are very different. Now the Nazis were not unperceptive about Modern art – it’s just that they did not like what they saw because it was really a split off part of themselves.

DT: Yes – it had power because it was.

DK: Yes, exactly. Unless it had that power they would not have responded to it so negatively. ( ibid. )

Read More:http://static.royalacademy.org.uk/files/baselitz-education-guide-191.pdf

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