Georg Baselitz (1938-), Crema, 2004
Since 1969 Baselitz has consistently painted his subject matter upside down. The themes subjected to this unconventional approach are in themselves quite traditional. Baselitz reuses the classic themes of art history: landscapes, nudes, and portraits.
The artist's strategy
Baselitz has himself pointed out that this strategy allows him to separate the mode of representation from the subject matter, thereby investigating the relationship between image and representation. Baselitz once said that the object has no significance in itself, whereas the painting is autonomous.
The painting's motif
Here, he has painted a road leading into a forest of naked trees in the Italian town of Crema. In the foreground, floating upside down, a pair of black men’s shoes come walking. The trees appear strangely eerie and ominous, and the absurd human fragment appears at the mercy of Nature, yet also powerful by force of its visual dominance.
The reuse of Expressionism
Just as Baselitz repeats the motifs of art history, he also, with a certain ironic distance, reuses a historical style: that of Expressionism. By forcing classic motifs and an established genre and style up against a new border, he explores the aesthetic and senserelated potentials of painting.