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.

Viva Phillips at “Viva Arte Viva” – Venice Biennale

Installation by Ernesto Neto at the Venice Biennale 2017. All photos: Vesela Sretenovic

The 57th Venice Biennale, according to its artistic director Christine Macel, celebrates (as the title “Viva Arte Viva” indicates) “the existence of art and artists whose worlds expand our perspectives and the space of our existence.”

Among the 120 participating artists, we are proud to see a number of artists whose work has been featured at the Phillips, is part of our collection, or both. Among them are Sam Gilliam prominently inviting visitors to the Central Pavilion; Xavier Veilhan representing the French Pavilion; McArthur Binion in the Central Pavilion, Zilia Sanchez, Ernesto NetoFranz Erhard Walther in the Arsenale, and Bernardi Roig as part of the INTUITION exhibition at the Palazzo Fortuni. Viva Phillips art(ists)!

Vesela Sretenovic, Senior Curator for Modern and Contemporary Art

Xavier Veilhan’s soundscape STUDIO VENEZIA, representing French Pavilion. An immersive architectural space where professional musicians play for the entire duration of the biennale.

Xavier Veilhan at the Venice Biennale 2017

Franz Ehard Walther’s installation at the Venice Biennale 2017

Zilia Sanchez’s work at the Venice Biennale 2017

Zilia Sanchez’s work at the Venice Biennale 2017

Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Vesela Sretenovic with artist McArthur Binion in front of his work at the Venice Biennale 2017

Installation view of McArthur Binion’s work at the Venice Biennale 2017

Blurring the Line Between Drawing and Painting

Installation view of George Condo: The Way I Think. Photo: Lee Stalsworth

What does George Condo mean when he speaks of his “drawing paintings?” We interviewed the artist with this and other questions about his installation at the Phillips, The Way I Think. Have more questions? Join us for a conversation between Condo and Deputy Director for Curatorial and Academic Affairs Klaus Ottmann on Thursday, May 25.

What are “drawing paintings?”
George Condo: “Drawing paintings” are something that were a reaction to the consistent hierarchy that supposedly exists between drawing and painting. What I wanted to do was combine the two of them and make drawing and painting on the same level, that there was no real difference between drawing and painting and by combining pastel, charcoal, pencil, and all these various different drawing mediums on a canvas, it would be an experience for the viewer to see that drawing and painting together can exist in one—I would say—happy continuum.

How has your drawing evolved over time?
GC: Well, this show gave me a chance to figure that one out. I saw the drawings that my mother had saved from when I was 4 and 5 years old until I was about 7 or 8, and really it was all about doing everything right, and making sure I got it right, and that everything looked precise. And then once I started to understand more of the conceptual qualities of art in the 70’s and the idea of deconstructing things, and reading more about Picasso and John Cage, well at this point you have to do everything wrong. You have to break all the rules. So the evolution went from doing everything right to doing everything wrong, but still trying to make sure that the pictures themselves are intact and that there aren’t any loose ends.

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