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At the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris, until 19th July 2015.
The Museum of Modern Art of Paris presents, in reverse order, the rich and varied career of painter and sculptor Markus Lüpertz (born in 1941). Lüpertz is a major artist of the German scene, who draws much of his inspiration from contemporary history, Greek mythology and the tension between representation and abstraction. His first French retrospective features the distinct periods of his work, which never fails to surprise.
Legends and Greek mythology
This exhibition brings together more than 140 iconic works. The most recent production of the artist is unveiled within the first room. A large sculpture in painted bronze, representing a man’s bust without arms, is greeting us with a blank stare. It is surrounded by monumental paintings from the “Arcadias” series, made between 2013 and 2015. Markuz Lüpertz breaks here with the classical representation of mythological scenes by integrating fragmented bodies and unusual objects like steel helmets, or shells. These scenes, which have no narrative framework, remind us of collages.
The large canvases from the series “Men Without Women. Parsifal ” are part of the largest body of work made by the artist between 1993 and 1997. This series refers to Perceval – the central character of the novel by Chrétien de Troyes – and its operatic treatment by Wagner. The portraits of Parsifal are characterized by a high degree of simplification. Represented frontally and without any volume, the facial components such as the eyes, nose and mouth are reduced to simple lines, approaching abstraction.
After venturing through rooms dedicated to the series on war (1992) and German history (1970-1976), the viewer discovers the ‘dithyrambic’ paintings. For this series made between 1963 and 1976 Markus Lüpertz uses a technique called “tempera”, a process in which the pigments are bound by emulsion and used to apply paint in thin layers. Lüpertz simplifies forms and magnifies details that “drive the object towards its monumentality.” The figurative subjects from everyday life are removed from their conventional context and thus lose their original meaning, thereby taking on abstract qualities.
The Museum of Modern Art of Paris’ retrospective highlights the assured eye of an artist who continues to influence younger generations of artists. A show not to be missed!