Born in Germany in 1938, Georg Baselitz grew up during war and its devastation. When he came of age, he rejected abstraction—the path of so many postwar artists—instead choosing the human figure as a central motif. His work, however, was anything but naturalistic. The figures were distorted, executed in vibrant expressionistic strokes. He captured raw emotion. In 1969, Baselitz began painting his figures upside down—a technique that brought worldwide acclaim. He meant to force viewers to slow down and focus on the surface, shape, and color of a work. At the Palazzo Grimani, in the 18th-century Sala del Portego, works by Baselitz hang in ancient frames where the Grimani family portraits once were, prompting viewers to stop and contemplate their surroundings. While creating the 12 canvases, Baselitz took inspiration from Titian’s 1558 portrait of Cardinal Filippo Archinto. —E.C.
Museo di Palazzo Grimani Rugagiuffa, 4858, 30122 Venezia VE Get Directions »