“Men don’t paint well either!”

Christie's priced this George Baselitz painting at half  a million. How does he make ends meet?

Christie’s priced this Baselitz at around $600,000. How does he make ends meet?

An article on Georg Baselitz in The Independent seems designed to make your jaw drop. Aside from the comments about female artists, there is an equally funny remark from someone pushing back against Baselitz by dissing him, on the grounds that his work doesn’t pass the sales test he sets up in his remarks. The point is that the highest price his work has fetched is “only” $4.5 million. That says more about the haywire perspective here than anything else. My riposte to Baselitz would be nothing but a list of female painters whose work I love, or at least like quite a bit: Martin, Frankenthaler, Riley, Saville, O’Keefe, Matthiasdottir, Fish, Freilicher, Krasner, Cassatt. . . and quite a few lesser-known women I’ve written about here. I’m surprised he didn’t fault women for failing to turn their images upside down. From The Independent:

Women cannot paint well, despite making up the majority of art students, according to one of Europe’s pre-eminent post-war artists. Georg Baselitz, who was lauded by the Royal Academy five years ago as one of the greatest living artists, dismissed women painters, saying that they “simply don’t pass the market test, the value test”, adding: “As always, the market is right.”

“Women don’t paint very well. It’s a fact,” the 75-year-old German artist told the German newspaper Der Spiegel. “And that despite the fact that they still constitute the majority of students in the art academies.”

Baselitz conceded there were exceptions, pointing to Agnes Martin, Cecily Brown and Rosemarie Trockel. After praising Paula Modersohn-Becker, however, he added that “she is no Picasso, no Modigliani and no Gauguin”.

Griselda Pollock . . .  co-author of Old Mistresses: Women, Art and Ideology, said: “Only few men paint brilliantly and it’s not their masculinity that makes them brilliant. It’s their individuality. Baselitz says women don’t paint very well, with a few exceptions. Men don’t paint very well either, with a few exceptions.”

Sarah Thornton, who wrote Seven Days in the Art World, said: “I disagree with him; the market gets it wrong all the time. To see the market as a mark of quality is going down a delusional path. I’m shocked Baselitz does. His work doesn’t go for so much.”

The record for a work by Baselitz was £3.2m in 2011 for his work Spekulatius.

“Men don’t paint very well either.” Just that and nothing more would have been the perfect response.


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