Born in Deutschbaselitz in Saxony as Hans Georg Kern, Baselitz (1938-) took his name from his native town. He knew nothing about contemporary art until he left East Germany at the age of twenty. Initially his painting was marked by an iconoclastic licence and a preoccupation with certain powerfully provocative images – mutilated feet, distorted penises, despairing masks – and by a subversive violence allied to a spiritual quest reminiscent of Antonin Artaud or Baudelaire. In 1969 he painted his first “upside-down” painting. All his work since has employed this conceit, allowing the painter to find a “new distance” from the subject he is painting and to impose, without being any less figurative, a literal revolution on the way the public looks at the world.
His upside-down rams for the Mouton Rothschild 1989 label bring together the traditional Mouton emblem with the great historical shock of that year: the demolition of the Berlin Wall. He has added the words “Drüben sein jetzt hier” – “Over there is now over here”.