Baselitz responds dramatically to German art legislation

The artist Georg Baselitz has added fuel to the controversy surrounding the German government’s proposal to revise the nation’s cultural protection legislation.

Baselitz, who is one of Germany’s best known contemporary artists, has said that he will withdraw all works on permanent or long-term loan to German museums.

The artist’s dramatic decision follows the German government’s plans to introduce a law that all cultural artefacts older than 50 years and with a value in excess of €150,000 will have to be granted an export license.

The changes have triggered criticism from many who work in the arts who believe that the proposals will disadvantage Germany’s art market, and restrict private collector’s freedom to loan or sell their works abroad.

The German culture minister Monika Grütters has justified the legislation saying “the cultural nation of Germany is obligated to collect and preserve its cultural property.”

She has been adamant that “the state will not expropriate, it will not lay claim to private collections and it certainly won’t pursue a socialist concept of ownership.”

Grütters has also insisted that the export licence will “simply extend the scope of current rules that have been in force for 23 years.” But Baselitz’s actions will do nothing to calm fears that the changes will have a more far-reaching consequence.

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