Markus Lüpertz: at Vito Schnabel Gallery, Santa Monica
A leading member of an international group of Neo-Expressionist artists who came to prominence in the 1970s and ‘80s, the German painter and sculptor Markus Lüpertz is best known for his archetypal works that mine history and myths while blurring the boundary between representation and abstraction. Exhibiting since the early 1960s, the 82-year-old Berlin-based artist has participated in documenta and the Venice and Berlin Biennales, created countless set and costume designs for stage productions, and had his work shown at major museums and galleries worldwide.
The exhibition “Markus the Painter or the Ratio of the Impossible” at the gallery, which occupies the massive Old Santa Monica Post Office, presents a survey of Lüpertz’s painting practice. Featuring 30 paintings from the past six decades, the exhibition offers a rare West Coast viewing of select canvases made by the artist between 1964 and 2021. The earliest works in the show explore a style of painting that he called dithyramb, referencing an ancient rhythmic chant to honor the Greek god Dionysus. Starting with a two-dimensional representational image, Lüpertz would construct a 3D image through the marriage of abstract colors, lines, shading and forms. That unique way of working continued through a series of still lives and landscapes, before the artist began exploring German historical subject matter in the later ‘60s and ‘70s and through the dynamic figure studies that followed—with prime example of these periods of his painting highlighted in this must-see show.