Markus Lüpertz: Bode-Museum
Travis Jeppesen
January 2016

For his current exhibition here, Markus Lüpertz spent many hours at the museum—which holds Berlin’s collection of classical sculpture—fixedly making drawings based on one work in the collection: a wooden Apollo, 1615–16, by Ludwig Münstermann. And, indeed, you can see why: The figure’s curved, moon-shaped face, with its look of alarm accentuated by a pointy beard, is almost overbearing in its expressiveness.

It is no coincidence that Münstermann first became a subject of interest among German art historians during the height of Expressionism, and it is also unsurprising that Lüpertz, one of the still-living master proponents of that style, should be drawn to this Apollo as a vehicle for his own painterly musings. In one of Lüpertz’s untitled mixed-media renderings from 2015, the Apollo is depicted against an imagined landscape of hills, their forms accentuated in a bright orange. Other drawings zero in on details of the sculpture, such as the hand that grips the cloth flung over his shoulders, index and middle fingers extended in a gesture of shock that seems to echo his face just above.

The exhibition also shows a selection of Lüpertz’s earlier figurative bronze sculptures from 2001 to 2015 scattered throughout the galleries, though they are not representative of the artist’s finest work and, with their blocky forms and sloppy neon coloring, look rather comical next to all these works from antiquity and the Middle Ages—all the better for the drawings, the real centerpiece.