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Baselitz pulls art in protest

July 17, 2015

German painter Georg Baselitz has made good on his threat to pull his artworks from German galleries in response to a proposed cultural protection law, removing nine paintings from the Dresden Albertinum.

Georg Baselitz. Copyright: Andreas Gebert/dpa.
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Gebert

He is revered as one of the greatest artists to hail from Saxony. For the past five years, nine of his acclaimed artworks have adorned the walls of an exclusive salon at the Dresden Albertinum, in the Saxon capital.

But on Friday (17.07.15), 77-year-old Georg Baselitz is removing all nine paintings in protest to a planned cultural protection act, which could potentially see his works quarantined in Germany.

Baselitz' response has been emblematic of the nation-wide criticism of the proposed legislation in Germany, which plans to scrutinize the sale of any artworks or artifacts valued at more than 150,000 euro ($164,000) and older the 50 years - intending to both stem the flow of the illegal sale of antiques and keep works in Germany which are considered "national treasures."

Gerhard Richter - the world's most expensive living artist - is also amongst the vocal detractors, and the heir to Max Beckmann's estate announced they, too, will withdraw the loan of the artist's works to the Leipzig Museum of Fine Arts, fearing their "detention" in Germany should the proposal come into law.

Speaking in Berlin on Wednesday, German Culture Minister Monika Grütters tried to allay anxieties about the draft Cultural Property Protection Act, stating: "Protection is not, in my eyes, expropriation." The intention behind the proposed law, she emphasized, was to prevent looted cultural treasures from crisis regions like Syria and Iraq from entering the black market.

Baselitz - whose paintings and sculptures often sell internationally for millions of euros - is also planning to remove works on loan to galleries in Munich and Chemnitz.

jgt/kbm (epd/dpa)