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Painting Is Always Local: Markus Lüpertz In LA

Markus Lüpertz; Photo by Giulio Coscia, courtesy of the artist

The German artist Markus Lüpertz, 82, has been making his mark on the art world for some six decades. The Phillips Collection in Washington DC which held a Lüpertz retrospective in 2017, has called him, "One of the most important post-World War II artists in Germany," adding that, "Markus Lüpertz helped chronicle and shape the postwar image of his country, achieving enormous success across Europe."

Markus the Painter or The Ratio of the Impossible is Lüpertz's first ever career survey in Los Angeles, a selection of almost thirty paintings made between 1964 and 2021, beautifully installed in the Vito Schnabel gallery in the former Old Post Office in Santa Monica; and where I had the opportunity to interview Lüpertz and have him walk me through the exhibition with his wife, Dunja, and his daughter, Lilli, who served as our translator.

Born in 1941 in a part of the present-day Czech Republic that was then occupied by Nazi Germany, Lüpertz's family moved to a city in Germany's Rhineland when he was seven. In 1962, he moved to West Berlin where he began his painting career.

Lüpertz told me that "he always wanted to be a painter." In his work, he has constantly challenged himself to work in different styles, producing a prodigious number of paintings in each series (sometimes 100 or more) until he feels it's time to move on.

If an artist finds a certain style that he wants to do for the rest of his career, that's fine, Lüpertz told me, but that's not what he's aiming for. He wanted to change.