BONJOUR MONSIEUR COURBET, 1965
Baselitz frequently included the painter among his heroes, although this character might seem unrelated to the rest. In this case the theme is confirmed by the title, which mentions the 19th-century French realist painter Gustave Courbet.
These works allowed Baselitz to reflect on his own personal condition, on his role and his contribution to painting.
If I had been born someone else, born somewhere else, I would have certainly been able to produce more felicitous pictures.
But this awareness of himself as a painter affected not only his choice of themes but also how he rendered them. In his own words:
I'm a German artist: what I do is rooted in the German tradition. It's ugly and expressive.
The connection between his heroes and Expressionism is obvious. His characters do not have harmonious, idealized proportions, their disproportion is a deliberate attempt to provoke emotional responses. But those same emotions are suggested in the energetic, pastose brushstrokes, possessing an independent momentum.