Markus Lüpertz is a German Neo-Expressionist artist known to push boundaries while questioning what art is or should be. His unique style of painting simplifies form, blending the figurative and abstract. Often he will crop his compositions to include only heads or faces with torsos. His work references biblical, mythological and historical themes, particularly militarism and the idea of the protagonist in comparison to the anti-hero.Read More
Lüpertz’s ‘Deutsche Motive’ series in the 1970s caused much controversy. Exploring German history, World War II and the Nazi era, the symbolism he employed initiated a fraught relationship with his audience. Though contentious amidst the moral gloom of the aftermath of war, Lüpertz’s symbols—helmets, officers’ caps and military equipment—focus on formal qualities such as line, colour and texture. These emotional works were significant in shaping the post-war image of Germany. As Robert Ayers wrote in a June 2017 Ocula Magazine report, ‘this strand in Lüpertz’s art is now seen as part of an outdated current in post-war German history, which allowed a younger generation of German people to find their own identity not saddled by their parents’ guilt and as part of a contemporary Europe.’
Though many of his war paintings were completed when Minimalism and Conceptualism were on the rise and painting was falling out of fashion, Lüpertz’s steadfast pursuit of the medium of paint drove him to challenge art historical forces. This is one of the reasons why today he is recognised as one of the most important figures in Neo-Expressionist art. Lüpertz’s other paintings—including flattened and patchy landscapes and loose-limbed figures—are known to tap into ideas of memory, recollection and distortion while referencing philosophers such as Nietzsche. Alongside these works, the artist has produced sculptures (since the 1980s), pottery and poetry. He has also designed sets and costumes for theatre and the opera.
As a child Lüpertz grew up in Rheydt, Rhineland (formerly West Germany). He entered the School of Applied Art in Krefeld in 1956 and later studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf—one of Germany’s most prestigious art schools—before travelling through Paris and beginning the most active years of his artistic practice. Lüpertz’s career gained much traction over the more than 20 years that he was head of Kunstakademie Düsseldorf.
Today Lüpertz lives and works between Düsseldorf and Berlin, Germany.
Jessica Douglas | Ocula | 2017