Markus Lüpertz. Retrospective. 1963 – 1990

February 5 - May 6, 1991 /
Sabatini Building, Floor 4

The retrospective exhibition of Markus Lüpertz (Liberec-Reichenberg, Czech Republic, 1941) traces the career of one of the greatest living German artists of recent decades. A representative of German Neo-Expressionism along with Georg Baselitz, A. R. Penck (Ralf Winkler) and Jörg Immendorff. Emerging in the early Sixties, Lüpertz and his generation conducted a special reformation of painting from the painting itself, in many cases making references back to the vanguards of the beginning of the century. Lüpertz’s intense and complex career is synthesised in the hundred and thirty-five pieces (paintings, drawings and sculptures) now brought together, and are organised into three chronological groups, although there are extensions to the reasons and resources in them.

His first stage is known by the name of Dithyrambische Malerei (dithyrambic painting) (1964-1976), the most significant of which is his piece Dityrambische Manifest from 1966. Lüpertz appropriates a term that refers to a poetic work of Greek antiquity sacred to Dionysus and which was then recovered by Nietzsche as hymnic poetry. As pointed out by Johannes Gachnang, curator of the exhibition: "until the mid-seventies Lüpertz used the concept of dithyramb as an epithet in the titles of his works, and thus drew attention to a supplemented value, a surplus of energy, irradiation or vitality that could add to his paintings." At this point the characteristics of his later work can be recognised: the use of a predominantly dark palette, the expressive value that colour infers - more than gestures - the choice of large canvases and always painting something which has a theme. The synthetic representation of logs, tiles and diamonds of his first paintings immediately lead to more complex compositions, more vivid colour where he relies on helmets, arrows, snails and wheat fields, painted and assembled as military emblems, such as in the case of Shwarz, Rot, Gold I - Dityrambisch (1984) and which shows the issue of death, which become established in his painting, like in vanitas. From that moment he decides to paint pictures that have German themes.

In the second stage, Stil-Malerie (style painting) (1976-1984) Lüpertz produces series and versions on the same theme-problem (from the reason to the form and vice versa), as by isolating it he intended to resolve it, while breaking its effect, as can be seen in Amor und Psyche (1978) and Pierrot Lunaire (1984). Without abandoning painting Lüpertz begins to create sculptures in the mid-eighties, translating into bronze his own formal and expressive presumptions.

In the last period, named in the exhibition, Corot-Poussin (1985-1990), Lüpertz reinterprets the work of these two masters of the past, from pictorial interests, rebuilding their themes and in whom he manifested a special interest in the Baroque and in the words of the art critic Robert Fleck "virulent drama in the hymnic sense." In addition, from Nicolas Poussin he retakes his willingness from having recovered the identity of classical painting (Renaissance) in the seventeenth century, as he intended to, for the sake of modern painting following the dogmas of modernity.

Exhibition´s details

Organized by: 
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
Johannes Gachnang and Paloma Esteban Leal
Markus Lüpertz