Poetry Challenge: Artwork Conversations

In addition to being an artist, Markus Lüpertz was a poet. Throughout the exhibition, share your Lüpertz-inspired poems with us to win prizes. Every other week, we’ll issue a new poetry challenge based on images or themes in the exhibition for fresh inspiration and chances to win.

(left) Stil: Eins-Zehn VII – große Form mit Linie 2 (Style: One-Ten VII—Large Shape with Line 2), 1977. Oil and distemper on canvas, 63 3/4 x 51 1/4 in. Private collection (right) Arkadien – Der hohe Berg (Arcadia—The High Mountain), 2013. Mixed media on canvas, 51 1/4 x 63 3/4 in. Private collection

THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE:
These paintings, both by Lüpertz, were created 36 years apart (1977 and 2013, respectively). Imagine the two works are having a conversation. What might they say? Describe in a short poem.

THIS WEEK’S PRIZE: Two tickets to Phillips after 5: Punk Out on July 6, 2017.

TO ENTER: Leave your poem in the comments here, or share on social media with #LupertzPoem. We’ll select winners on Friday, June 23.

Painting to Painting: Finding Familiar Faces

While working in Texas last month, I had the good fortune to visit the Dallas Museum of Art. I found a few paintings that reminded me of works from The Phillips Collection, and thought they made nice pairings.

Robert Henri, (left) Dutch Girl, 1910/reworked 1913, 1919. Oil on canvas, 24 1/4 x 20 1/4 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1920 (right) Dutch Girl Laughing, 1907. Oil on canvas, 32 x 26 1/4 in. Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase

In the summers of 1907 and 1910, Robert Henri traveled to Haarlem, The Netherlands, where he painted many portraits of the local people, including these two works which may be the same sitter. Henri described young Cori here as “a little white headed broad faced red cheeked girl…always laughing.”

Edward Hicks ,(left) The Peaceable Kingdom, between 1845 and 1846. Oil on canvas, 24 1/8 x 32 1/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1939 (right) The Peaceable Kingdom, c. 1846-1847. Oil on canvas, 24 x 31 1/8 in. Dallas Museum of Art, The Art Museum League Fund

Edward Hicks painted more than one hundred versions of this subject, which illustrates his favorite biblical passage—Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 11:6-9), an allegory of spiritual and earthly harmony.

George Bellows, (left) Emma at the Window, 1920. Oil on canvas, 41 1/4 x 34 3/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1924 (right) Emma, 1920-1923. Oil on canvas, 63 x 51 in. Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase

Between 1911 and 1924, George Bellows painted eleven portraits of his wife, Emma Story Bellows (1884–1959). The works from the 1920s were created in Woodstock, New York, where the couple summered. These mature portraits reflect Bellows’s admiration for the Old Masters, Thomas Eakins, and contemporary color theories.

John Marin, (left) The Sea, Cape Split, Maine, 1939. Oil on canvas, 24 1/4 x 29 1/4 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1940 (right) Bathers, 1932. Oil on canvas, 22 1/4 x 28 1/2 in. Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated

After establishing himself in the 1920s as the world’s foremost watercolorist, John Marin began painting oils in the 1930s. These paintings reveal Marin’s renowned ability to capture his immediate impression of a powerful seascape along the rocky Maine coast.

Renée Maurer, Associate Curator

What is a Dithyramb?

Mann im Anzug – dithyrambisch II (Man in Suit—Dithyrambic II), 1976. Distemper on canvas, 98 1/2 x 73 1/2 in. Private collection

When you visit the Markus Lüpertz exhibition, you might find yourself asking, “what is the dithyramb?” You’d find that word repeated over and over again on several labels. So let me quote:  he said, “I didn’t want to paint figuratively anymore, so I invented something abstract that is also figurative, a dithyramb.” So, in there you feel the contradiction; he’s challenging us to figure out what he’s saying. He imposes that term on paintings that ostensibly present a tree trunk, roof tiles on a house, a helmet, a traditional cake form in Germany, a stalk of wheat, a man’s suit, such disparate and trivial objects, and again he paints them with authority and drama, instilling their trivialness with importance, or at least the importance of a painted object.

He defies normal expectations; it’s not really a depiction and it’s not figurative, but it’s not abstract. Those are the kind of norms that he’s discarding very vociferously. When we expect things to be part of a landscape, none of them appear outdoors; they seem to inhabit a flat, ill-defined, poster-like environment. That log does not rest in a landscape, it can hardly be described as a still life, is it now a monument? Those are the kinds of questions that he’s prompting us to engage in as we look closely.

I quote Lüpertz again: “the dithyramb was my totally individual contribution to abstraction, abstraction not in the sense of rational analysis or reduction, but as in the invention of a nonsense object.” He embraces riddles and mysteries as fundamental to art. He says, “art survives only in riddles, only in mystery can art’s eternal truth be retained, therefore the artist must be, as Nietzsche demands, a seeker of riddles, because those who seek to solve riddles are many.” The reference to Nietzsche is important because this whole Dionysian poetic term from the poetry of antiquity re-emerged in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in the German-speaking world and had a resonance for him.

Dorothy Kosinski, Markus Lüpertz exhibition curator and Phillips Director