Biography of Markus Lüpertz
Markus Lüpertz is one of the most influential German artists living today. His paintings take an unflinching look at the human condition and set up a unique dialog between figuration and abstraction, provoking a rethinking of the whole history of modern art. He has been termed a Neoexpressionist and famously developed his style in response to the prevailing American conceptual and pop art movements of his youth by embracing subjectivity and a rough handling of materials. For over 22 years Lüpertz has been the head of one of the most distinguished institutions in Germany, the Düsseldorf Art Academy. Lüpertz calls his abstract compositions “dithyrambs”, a reference to the deities who stood for the division of two distinct passages of life, this complex duality forming the conceptual basis of much of his work.
Combining popular culture and mythological references Markus Lüpertz is never afraid to tackle Germany’s problematic modern history. The artist was thrust into the public domain in 1970 when he began using German military motifs such as Nazi helmets and capes in his paintings. Lüpertz would always deny the monstrous and violent associations connected with these motifs, choosing instead to re-emphasize his role as an abstract painter and therefore as an artist “without responsibilities”. This barely compatible merging of pictorial motif with abstraction lays at the heart of his practice.
Born in 1941 in Czechoslovakia, Markus Lüpertz’s family emigrated to Germany in 1948. Taking small laboring jobs like road construction and coal mining, Lüpertz then sought a life of adventure, enlisting and deserting the French Foreign Legion all in a matter of months. In 1962 Lüpertz moved to Berlin, then the only city to be excluded from military service.
In 1970 Lüpertz was awarded the prestigious Villa Romana prize which bestows a fellowship in Florence. He has had major exhibitions in the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam in 1997 whilst the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn exhibited a huge retrospective of his work in 2009-10. Lüpertz was also awarded a retrospective at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 2015. Markus Lüpertz’s paintings, sculptures, limited editions, and multiples are collected around the world and his work is in the permanent collections of the Pinakothek in Munich, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, and the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire in Genf.