Georg Baselitz: Why Women Artists Don’t Paint Very Well

The outspoken German painter Georg Baselitz, has caused controversy in an interview, in the German newspaper, Der Spiegel. On this occasion, he has stated that female artists are not recognised because they simply “don’t paint very well”.  He added, painting demands “brutality against the thing itself, against what already exists”. This is art as destruction,  anathema to the “natural” feminine tendency to nurture, love, and care for both children and husband, who will presumably be too busy making a masterpiece to help out with the housework.

Baselitz  declared that women cannot paint. And even if they can paint they are not good artists: Baselitz: “Oh God! Women simply don’t pass the test”. SPIEGEL: What test? Baselitz: “The market test, the value test”.

Georg Baselitz was born in 1938 in the former East Germany. He studied painting at the Hochschule für bildende und angewandte Kunst in East Berlin. Expelled for “sociopolitical immaturity. “He successfully applied to West Berlin’s Hochschule der Künste and continued his studies in the class of Professor Hann Trier.During this period he was heavely influenced by the theories of Ernst-Wilhelm Nay, Wassily Kandinsky and Kasimir Malevich.

Baselitz has been universally recognised as a powerful, inventive and controversial painter since he burst upon the art scene in the 1960s.In the 1970s. He was part of a group of Neo-Expressionist German artists, occasionally identified as ‘Neue Wilden’, focusing on deformation, the power of subject and the vibrancy of the colors. He is well known for his upside-down images and seen as a revolutionary painter as he draws the viewer’s attention to his works by making them think, sparking their interest. From the outset, Baselitz confronted the visceral realities of history and the human and cultural tragedies of a world in turmoil with a cast of tragic anti-heroes. The subjects of the paintings don’t seem to be as significant as the work’s visual insight. Through out his career, Baselitz has varied his style, ranging from layering substances to his style, since the 1990s, which focuses more on lucidity and smooth changes. In 2006 the Royal Academy mounted the first major UK retrospective of his work, this exhibition featured over 60 paintings, together with a significant number of sculptures, prints and drawings.

Baselitz 75, is obviously not a convert to the gender revolution which took place around him at the height of his career in the 1960’s and 70’s. Sexism in any way shape or form is out of step with society as a whole, especially in the art community. Baselitz is not what I would call one of the 20th century’s great painters. He is no Gerhard Richter and not even in the league of a Francesco Clemente. Will his outpourings devalue his his mediocre and overpriced work? Surprisingly it may just do that!