Exhibition Introduction En lien
Exposition Baselitz

Exposition Baselitz
Malelade – Bestiaire d’images et de mots

From 13 February to 15 May 2016


The painter, draftsman, printmaker and sculptor Georg Baselitz (*1938) became famous for doing all his figures upside down starting in 1969. This way of inventing things that from the outset goes about it the wrong way round generates a new relationship to images that are treated as purely formal questions and at the same time set at a remove. The sort of thing to revive the viewer’s eager imagination.

In the late 1980s, although still having no experience with the “artist’s book” at this point, Baselitz was haunted by the idea of a bound though coverless group of works, like Piranesi’s folios or Goya’s collections of prints, which would bring together text and image. With his discovery of the Physiologus, the 2nd-century Greek bestiary that has come down to us through several manuscripts, including the illuminated 14th-century codex known as the Smyrna Codex, Baselitz had finally hit upon a framework for his aspirations.

Straightaway the printmaker threw himself into the free associations that spring from the intuition and energy of the gesture. He summoned his usual repertory, viz., the eagle, the human head and body, the horse, the dog, and the pig, which grew to include new depictions, the hare, the titmouse, and the fish. These images were most often done in drypoint and over them Baselitz superimposed feverish writing, less in the sense of something descriptive than incantatory. His efforts gave rise to forty-one plates, which the artist brought together in 1990 in a work he calls Malelade, the title a portmanteau word that melds the German verb malen (“to paint”), the French adjective and noun malade (“ill” or “sick person”), and finally Lade (German for “chest” or “drawer”), to suggest a certain definition of the act of creation.

The Baselitz | Malelade  exhibition features a complete set of the engravings, flanked by nine oil paintings dealing with the same motifs, and a painted wooden sculpture, displaying an iconographic lexicon that is both inspired and a strong artistic gesture.


Rainer Michael Mason


Baselitz | Malelade – Bestiaire d’images et de mots
32 pages 16 x 23.5 cm ISBN 978-2-9701038-2-0
Fondation Jan Michalski, Montricher, 2016
CHF 15.-