Georg Baselitz’s Orange Eater


The field of art has been in existence since the ancient times. It provides a mechanism through which the artists express their feelings and emotions. Art encompasses a wide range of activities through which these individuals can express emotions or feelings.

This includes music, literature, paintings, and sculpture among many others. The products developed here are valued for their beauty or the information that it portrays to the viewers. The field has had certain developments over years due to the changing creative ability of the different individuals.

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The modes through which individuals express their feelings have changed over the periods in different parts of the world. Some modes of expression that have had significant developments are music, painting arts, and recently, the art of movie making. Certain artistic competitions bring together different artists of a given genre with different abilities thereby creating competition. The viewers of the arts products have also developed more interest on the information depicted by a given art product rather than its aesthetic value.

These changes in the individual’s views of arts and artistic works explain the different generations of arts that have been witnessed in the recent past. Since there is a relationship between arts and the culture of a given group of people, the developments that have been registered in an area may be different from those registered in another area. One region whose art has been of interest is Germany.

Some of the generations that have been observed in the German art include Neo-Expressionism, Modern Art, Post-modern art, and inverted art. The developments that were seen in the German art can be attributed to different individual. One of the artists of the twentieth century who had significant contributions is Georg Baselitz. Others like Hans Thoma dominated the field in the nineteenth century[1].

It should be noted that paintings (or any other artworks) should portray some meaning. In doing so, they should also express some sense of morals and be in line with the legal provisions in a given region. This paper focuses on the contributions of Baselitz to the German arts. Some of his works that had significant impacts are highlighted here.

Germany also excelled in other arts apart from painting among photography[2]. The traditional arts involved manual creation of images. With the modern technology, some of these tasks could be performed by other devices. This includes computer arts, videos, and television programs. However, such applications have led to conflicting themes in the postmodern arts as the products become personal and self-critical[3].

Early life of Georg Baselitz

George Baselitz was born on January 3, 1938 in Deutschbaselitz, Germany[4]. His original name was Hans-Georg Kern, the name Baselitz would be adopted later in 1961 when he was enrolled for a Masters course at Hochschule der Kunste. His life has revolved around the field of arts, starting as a painter and developing further skills to become a trainer. He has had significant contributions in changing the course the German throughout the second half of the twentieth century to this date.

Baselitz had developed interest in artwork from his youth. He first encountered works of art in the school library (he was staying with his father and other family members in the school compound). Of more interest to him was the Expressionist impression that was depicted by the German art. Folk arts, children arts, or art of the insane[5] were the fundamental themes in much of the German arts, and these he found interesting. He began painting human portraits and still-life drawings at the early age of 14-15[6].

In 1956, he enrolled for arts studies at the Academy of Fine and Applied Art, East Berlin. This marked the beginning of his adventures in the field of arts. The instructors at the institution claimed that most of his works had negative impressions and did not depict social and political maturity. Thus, he was later expelled from the academy and left for West Berlin where he continues with his art studies.

Later on, he enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts, West Berlin, where pursued his postgraduate studies. During this period (in 1960), he adopted the name Baselitz, a name that he derived from his hometown[7]. His career as an artist had significant developments throughout this decade. He was in the class of Professor Hann Trier and learned different theories by arts scholars. Much of his work had emotional impressions that were appealing to the viewers in some way.

By the mid-1960s, Baselitz had begun to focus on political issues. His paintings were seen to touch on transformational or revolutionary movements in the society. Towards the end of the decade, he embarked on a different approach to artwork, the inverted art, a unique generation of artwork that would be fully attributed to him.

One of his works that invoked criticism was a naked woman that had been painted upside down. Baselitz and many others in the field of arts have been in fore front to fight the negative and false images that can be derived from artistic works. He has also extended his artworks beyond painting, by involving in wood sculpture among other arts.

The Orange Eater

The major developments in Baselitz’s artwork began in 1958 when he moved from East Berlin to West Berlin to continue with his study. It was at this time that he developed his first original work. His first original work was the imaginary portraits named “Uncle Bernhard.”[8]

In the same year, Baselitz began to work on another series “Rayski-Head,” and attended different exhibitions of Modern art New York. From the mid-1960s through the 1970s, Baselitz interacted with different people, collaborated with some of the artists, presented his works in different shows, and developed different series. Some of his works were condemned confiscated by the public officers for indecency[9].

The themes of his paintings varied from time to time and towards the end of 1970s, some of his works were abstract with fragmented pictures that did not provide initial impression. This explained the position that he took together with others regarding Neo-Expressionism (expressive paintings with recognizable subject matter). Some of the early works of Baselitz like the still-life drawings, landscape drawings or human portraits were visual rendering.

The exact image could be figured out by the viewers and the intended messages conveyed. Some of the paintings also applied allegory[10]. Images of ordinary objects were used as symbol to portray a different meaning in the social setup. However, other paintings were somehow abstract and had meanings that could not be figured out well.

The “Orange Eater” was developed in the early 1980s alongside the other series “Drinker”/ “Trinker.” Orange Eater was developed in the Neo-Expressionism movement. The series had a shift from the themes of arts that had dominated the 1970s. It had been noted that most paintings of the 1970s were mainly conceptual. The conceptualists believed that more visual sensation of paintings meant low cognitive value.[11] At this time, there was a constant cry that artists should develop paintings whose theme can be easily understood by the viewers.

As such, Baselitz and other German artists of the 1980s began to develop paintings that portrayed familiar objects. The artists expressed their emotions by using bright coloration on the objects drawn. With the re-introduction of this approach in the field of art, there was a significant change in the face of images, which could then be figured out by the viewers. However; some abstraction could still be seen in these Neo-Expressionist images.

The Orange Eater and the other series that were produced in the 1980s had both positive and negative impacts on his career. The series of the 1980s saw the artist being invited for various shows outside the European continent. He received constant invitations to present in various arts galleries in the United States.

Many artists developed interest in his works and many more sought to acquire the unique skills that were evident in him. Different training institutions sought for his aid in developing the appropriate skills required of an artist. This would determine his profession that he practices to date.

On the other hand, the development of Orange Eater in the Neo-Expressionism movement had certain negative impact that was general to the whole movement. Most of the paintings in these series portrayed images of naked human beings. This was seen by many critics as lack of morals by the artists.

The Orange Eater was viewed differently in different parts of the world in relation to arts generation to which it belonged. This was most likely caused by the different development pace that was observed in the field of arts in different parts of the world. Most of the artists and the scholars in Europe considered the works of this series as post-modern art. On the other hand, the series was regarded as neo-expressionist by the artists and scholars in the United States.

The Orange eater and the different theories in art

It has been stated that different theories exist in the field of arts and some are still controversial to date. These theories include the modern theory, the neo-expressionism theory, the inverted art, and the postmodern theory. These theories had remarkable differences. They were also considered differently in different parts of the world.

The modern art is the theory that can be considered as initial development from the traditional approach that was used in art. The theory has different chronology in different parts, having developed as early as the nineteenth century in some parts of the world. The theory adopted a narrative format for all the works of art. Art was considered as tool to describe the feelings of an individual. The theory also held on decency in the images that were to be used to give the expressions. The visual rendering of the images was key feature in this theory.

The neo-expressionism began some time in the late 1970s following the abstraction of the paint images that were common at that time[12]. The painters ‘reasserted the creative possibilities of emotionalism, of narrative, and of historical content and of art historical references.’[13]

The images before this period were mainly abstract and their meanings could be explained. The theory advocated for clear images to be produced by the artists. It rekindled the need to paint recognizable images like those of human beings so that the viewers could gauge the artist’s intent.

It was widely spreads by the media promotion and marketing by the dealers in galleries.[14] However, the use of naked human beings in some paintings discredited this art theory. The theory was also seen to discriminate against females as most of the exhibitions carried during its period mainly male painters. In fact, there are certain exhibitions that involved no female painters at al. the theory prevailed in the field of arts in the 1970s and the 1980s.

More criticisms led to adoption of other theories, some of which had been in existence before. The inverted art theory is purely attributed to Georg Baselitz following an image that he painted of a woman in an upside-down position.[15] However, the theory is of little use in the field of arts.

The theory of post-modernism came as a development of the modern art.[16] Just as the theory of the modern art, this theory was adopted at different times in different parts of the world. It was evident as early as 1940s in the United States[17] and in the late 1960s in the European countries. In the US, this period designated the completion of another cycle of modern art[18].

The theory contrasted the narrative path and decency of the modern art. The theory also differed from the neo-expressionism in that it had no gender issues. The Orange Eater series does not take a narrative path. It is characterized by lack of decency. Thus, the series suffice to have followed a post-modern theory of art.


The field of arts has an endless loop of transformation due to the new ideas that emerge among the different artists. Different theoretical approaches following the different abilities pf the artists and the divergent values attached to paintings and other works of arts.

The contributions of Georg Baselitz to the field of arts cannot be underestimated. He has been depicted to have unique skills and artistic abilities that have generated different approaches to arts. His current career as a trainer in the field of arts designates the climax of his contributions to this field.


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Gordon McLachlan, The rough guide to Germany (New York: Amazon, 2004), 336.
Andrea Schulte-Peevers, Lonely Planet Germany (Germany: Lonely Planet, 2010), 75
Jesse Bryant Wilder, Art history for dummies (Chicago: dummies, 2007), 372.
Georg Baselitz, Nostalgia in Istanbul, n.d, para.1
George Baselitz Biography, Encyclop?dia Britannica, Inc. 1994-2010.
Baselitz, n.d, para.2
Baselitz, n.d, para.8
Baselitz, n.d, para.5
Pamela Kort, Georg Baselitz Talks to Pamela Kort- ‘80s Then- Interview (April 2003): para.5
Peter Selz, German expressionist painting (California: University of California, 1974), 153.
Kempton Mooney, The evolution of conceptual art in America (FKM Books), 3
Hugh Honour and John Fleming, A world history of art (London: Laurence King Publishing, 2005), 877.
Lois Fichner-Rathus, Foundations of Art and Design (New Jersey: Cengage Brain, 2007), 304.
Neo-Expressionism, n.d, para.1
Brent Wilson. “Art visual culture, and child /adult collaborative images: recognizing the Other than” Art journal (2007).
Jean-Francois Lyotard, The postmodern explained: correspondence, 1982-1985 (New York: Amazon, 1993), 13.
David Hopkins, After Modern Art; 1945-2000. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000); 12
Bernard Smith, The Femalesque: a guide to modern art and its history (Australia: Palgrave Macmillan Australia, 2007), 105.


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