Georg Baselitz, to many one of the greatest living artists, made his name by being provocative. But in an interview published on Spiegel almost a month ago, he surpassed even his own cantankerous, choleric self by dismissing women painters who ”simply don’t pass the market test, the value test” because ”women don’t paint very well”. With a few bright exceptions to the rule like ”Agnes Martin or, from the past, Paula Modersohn-Becker” whose paintings make him ”very happy” but, still, they are ”no Picasso, no Modigliani and no Gauguin”.
No they are not. How could they be? Perhaps because the are Artemisia Gentileschi, Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Ann Vallayer-Coster or Gwen John?
But on what grounds would an articulate, accomplished artist annihilate the work, the very existence of an entire gender in art? Where does one even begin to argue against a perspective so very wrong in so many ways? And could a verbal or written argument do anything to change a vision as fundamentally distorted as it is dismissive? When did technique, artistic integrity and virtuosity become intrinsic values of a specific gender?
I am at a loss for words… Which is why I set up Basel[d]itz; a voice in protest against the continuous biased approach towards women in art. To let art speak for itself, I’ll be adding works by women artists I find fascinating, pleasing or repelling – all with their own individual charm and character.
Meanwhile, here is the extract from the interview in question:
SPIEGEL: You started painting in East Germany, but you left early and continued to study in the West. Nowadays, the art market largely ignores the artistic legacy of East Germany, including the painters who received all the attention and promotion, the ones you referred to as “assholes” after German reunification. Is it delayed justice?
Baselitz: As always, the market is right.
SPIEGEL: Always? The market only embraces a few women. There are hardly any women among the most expensive artists.
Baselitz: Oh God! Women simply don’t pass the test.
SPIEGEL: What test?
Baselitz: The market test, the value test.
SPIEGEL: What’s that supposed to mean?
Baselitz: Women don’t paint very well. It’s a fact. There are, of course, exceptions. Agnes Martin or, from the past, Paula Modersohn-Becker. I feel happy whenever I see one of her paintings. But she is no Picasso, no Modigliani and no Gauguin.
SPIEGEL: So women supposedly don’t paint very well.
Baselitz: Not supposedly. And that despite the fact that they still constitute the majority of students in the art academies.
Read the full interview here: Georg Baselitz ‘My Paintings are Battles’. In case the article is moved or archived please send me a message and I’ll e-mail it to you.