Poetry Challenge: Optical Order

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.

Installation view of Markus Lüpertz at The Phillips Collection. Photo: Lee Stalsworth

THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE:
Rather than chronologically, the Markus Lüpertz exhibition is organized in an optical order (more on this in a previous blog post). Write a short poem describing your response to the way Lüpertz’s works are displayed and arranged in this installation.

THIS WEEK’S PRIZE: An Individual membership to The Phillips Collection.

TO ENTER: Leave your poem in the comments here, or share on social media with #LupertzPoem. We’ll select winners on Friday, September 1.

**UPDATE: The winning poem was submitted by Rebecca B:

Walking into a room
A city
A town
A crowd
We do not simply
Walk
Into the present moment
With painted past
And indistinct future
We enter a space
Filled with
Light
Color
Voices
Feelings.
Because we enter
Through a doorway
Does not mean
We should expect
A way
We have already felt
We have already faced.

The Fashionable Markus Lüpertz

Markus Lüpertz. Photo: Rhiannon Newman

We interviewed Phillips director and Markus Lüpertz exhibition curator Dorothy Kosinski about the exhibition and the artist:

In one small gallery of the Markus Lüpertz exhibition, you’ll find a kind of manifesto that Lüpertz offered once in a question and answer session with an author, which really reveals much more about his thinking. You’ll also find two photo blow-ups of Lüpertz, and you’ll see him in his (what I consider) regalia.

In the nineteenth century, Baudelaire would have called him the “artist dandy;” the Germans talked about some artist figures as the sort of “noble artist,” and he definitely, I think, adopts almost a performative presence in the world that’s part of his art. When I had the pleasure of spending two days with him here during the installation, he wore his fedora hat, and his beautiful cravat, and his spectator’s shoes, his beautiful cane, his elegant goatee, and it’s not an act of silliness. He also explained that he’s adopting the stance to protect himself, it’s like a buffer from the triviality, the white noise of the world. He’s an artist and he needs to hold onto that endangered platform in the contemporary world, that’s how I would explain it. But you’ll see two great pictures of him that gives sense of his dynamism and keen intelligence and forceful presence.

One essential reason that provoked me to embrace this project is a clear question: why is this very famous artist, known all across Europe with many exhibitions and publications, relatively unknown in the United States? Perhaps it goes back to the fact that he’s not easy to classify, he’s not about a recognizable style, that his paintings are challenging. There are probably also market forces that impact the evolution of an artist’s career. But we’re proud here at The Phillips Collection, in conjunction with our colleagues at the Hirshhorn Museum who are staging simultaneously a Lüpertz project with us, that we can offer an in-depth look at this important artist’s career.

Dorothy Kosinski, Phillips Director and curator of Markus Lüpertz

Artistic Style (or Absence of)

Installation view of Markus Lüpertz at The Phillips Collection. Photo: Lee Stalsworth

The current exhibition at the Phillips is likely the first encounter many visitors have had with Markus Lüpertz’s work. There are a variety of reasons why Lüpertz has remained relatively unknown in the US to this day. Like his contemporaries, Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer, Jörg Immendorf, and A.R. Penck, Lüpertz’s importance in the German art world has been recognized for decades. Yet, while many of those artists have had major US exhibitions and retrospectives, Lüpertz has yet to break through to American audiences. In many ways, this is a product of Lüpertz’s prodigiousness and the range of his styles, subjects, and approach to art. Kiefer and Baselitz, for example, have both largely maintained a specific style and approach to their art that makes for a more easily digestible viewing experience: one tends to be able to recognize a Kiefer as a Kiefer immediately. Lüpertz went a different route. He’ll offer primitivistic, mask-like faces in one work and faceless, statue-like figures in another. Some works appear totally abstract; others are rife with recognizable objects and imagery. Thus, in place of Kiefer’s ashen, morose surfaces and Baselitz’s upside down, dissolving bodies, Lüpertz, the Unknown Great of German Postwar Art, gives colors, objects, forms—sometimes expressive and evocative and other times withdrawn and unyielding.

Max Rosenberg, 2016-17 UMD-Phillips Collection Postdoctoral Fellow in Modern and Contemporary Art