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“Markus Lüpertz: New Paintings”

  • Art, Contemporary art

Time Out says

Known for his outspokenness and dandyish attire, Markus Lüpertz is a member in good standing of the Neo-Expressionist movement that emerged in Germany during the mid-postwar era. Still, while he has exhibited here frequently, he’s not as well known on this side of the Atlantic as his contemporaries Georg Baselitz and Anselm Kiefer.

Now 76, Lüpertz gained notoriety for a series of canvases that delved into Germany’s Nazi past, with images of helmets and officers’ uniforms. But he’s also had a long-held fascination for mythological and pastoral themes from classical antiquity, an interest indulged in this show of new paintings.

On view are scenes of nudes, male and female, posing within unspoiled settings of trees, fields and streams. In a couple of cases, the subjects are obtrusively crowded by blown-up platters of grapes or intruded upon by colossal sculptural heads. Elsewhere, horse bodies couple with figures to form centaurs. All of these subjects are painted in a moody palette of earth colors applied with broad, rough strokes; in one piece, for instance, a bluish-hued rendition of Narcissus is laid over a schematic sketch of a skeleton.

For all its rugged texture, Lüpertz’s work put me in mind of Nicolas Poussin’s finely grained 1637–38 masterpiece, Et in Arcadia ego. In it, shepherds pause in a sylvan grove to inspect the titular inscription on a stone block, a phrase that translates into, “Even in Arcadia, there am I.” The “I” is generally interpreted to mean Death, who likewise haunts Lüpertz’s brooding impressions of Eden.

Written by
Howard Halle


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