Georg Kern was born near Dresden in East Germany and studied art in both East and West Germany. He took the surname Baselitz from his place of birth in 1961, the year the Berlin Wall was built. Baselitz is credited with reintroducing the figure, as well a sense of history (a problematic issue in post-war Germany), into German painting, though he did this in a deeply sceptical, ambiguous way. In 1969 he caused controversy for his paintings in which the images were painted upside down. This was a device to take the focus off the subject matter and highlight the expressive and formal qualities of the painting style.