10 questions and 10 answers by Markus Lüpertz

I. Why do you paint?
I can feel the pressure of the thumb from on high. That leads to a disruption, a defect. And in the same way that the wounded oyster gives birth to the beautiful pearl, this pressure forces me to paint.

II. What do you want from painting?
Painting is culture, and who says culture says substance of the world. Painting provides the vocabulary to make the world visible.

III. What is painting?
Painting plummets the divine into perceptibility, by means of the eye — it sees the times, it is abstract thought and makes us conceive worlds and inter-worlds.

Markus Lüpertz. Photo: Rhiannon Newman

IV. What does abstract mean?
The manner of looking at, and of working with, my disruption, my defect. Abstraction is the result of the artist’s egotism. There are only abstract paintings. Painting is an abstract product, and it is only through the viewer that it tells a story. (Painting does not educate the person looking at it, it does not provide lessons, but it takes the viewer seriously and ennobles him by assuming an intellectually emancipated world.)

V. Is painting necessary?
Without painting the world is only consumed, it is not perceived.

VI. Can painting be learned?
No! Without congenital infirmity, it does not work. But through assiduous work, one can achieve a great deal and, by dint of what one accomplishes, approach great painting.

VII. Can the painter fail?
Yes, because it takes a great deal of discipline to see through to the end what one needs to do. For new painting is always born out of dissatisfaction with the previous one.

Installation view of the Markus Lüpertz exhibition at the Phillips. Photo: Lee Stalsworth

VIII. What is the painter’s success?
Influence over the period. Respect from his competitors. His own endless energy.

IX. What is the painter’s situation in society?
He is the cultural conscience of his times. The more a period allows great painters to exist, the more civilized it is.

X. Does painting today have a relationship with religion?
Painting is godless! When spirits and God played a part in painting, it was taboo. Today, during the twilight of the gods, it is the light, emphatic and absolutist, in conflict with a blindness that is overtaking the whole world.

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