Harmut Ackermaier’s aim in forming his collection was to document the development of that generation of German artists variously described as “primitives”, “neo-expressionists” or “angry young men”. So well represented is the artist Georg Baselitz that his works are being featured in a one-man exhibition. It will run until 20 July at the Credito Valtellinese’s art gallery at Palazzo delle Stelline, before transferring to the Neues Museum Weserburg, Bremen (see The Art Newspaper No. 8, May, p. 5), where a nucleus of works is to be permanently housed.
Harmut Ackermaier, a Berlin financier and avid art collector, kept a keen eye on the development of Baselitz’s work, undiscouraged by the artist’s lack of acclaim in the early 1960s. Having made judicious acquisitions, in latter years his patience has been rewarded. He even sold some works and bought them back again, anticipating the rise of Baselitz’s stock on the international art market.
Baselitz took his nom de plume from Deutschbaselitz, his native town, also the birthplace of George Hern. At fifty-three years of age, he is one of the few European artists able to bear price comparison with the Americans: today, his pictures sell for between £140,000-230,000 ($238,000-390,000).
Most of the fifty or so exhibits are large canvases, but there are also sculptures and drawings covering the whole span of Baselitz’s career, from the days of his Pandamonium manifesto, when he was experimenting with figurative subjects in an aggressively realistic vein, to his crucial “inverted” period: in 1969, Baselitz began painting portraits and landscapes upside down, propounding a controversial and deliberately anti-illusionist view of art. Baselitz has always found it difficult to conform to the rigid realities of social life. In 1956, when he moved to East Berlin to study, he was expelled for “social and political immaturity”; then in 1963 the Berlin authorities confiscated some of his paintings on the grounds of obscenity; they were restored to him only after two years of legal battles.