Michael Werner Gallery, New York is pleased to present Markus Lüpertz: Et in Arcadia ego, an exhibition of recent paintings by the eminent German artist Markus Lüpertz. The exhibition shows the artist at his best, forging a future for his work by invoking the past and reimagining it in the present.
Et in Arcadia ego is a Latin phrase that has intrigued classicists, artists, and poets since it was introduced in the 17th century, first in a painting by Giovanni Francesco Guercino and subsequently in two paintings by Nicolas Poussin. The widely accepted translation is “Even in Arcadia, there I (Death) am.”
Bringing the ethos of Guercino and Poussin into the present-day, Lüpertz paints the idyllic, mythical utopia of Arcadia in the bucolic landscape of Brandenburg, Germany, where the artist keeps his studio. In tranquil and lush settings, death is present through the inclusion of skulls, the Greek underworld rivers of Acheron and Styx, and sleeping figures culled from the paintings of Pierre Puvis de Chavannes.
Art historian Eric Darragon has written that “the art world is fragmented and the confrontation between various practices no longer has any meaning,” and because of this Lüpertz “is having a dialogue with a vanished world: that of old painting.” In these recent works, Lüpertz’s own history collides with art history. The artist’s famous looping dithyrambs, apparent in painter’s palettes and Nazi helmets from his provocative German motif series, take shape in memento mori paintings and traditional German landscapes.
Lüpertz has said, “Painting confronts the future, which we don’t know, and is aware of the past, which we do know, and this defines the present—not something new, but something individual.” Markus Lüpertz: Et in Arcadia ego presents Lüpertz’s singular vision and remarkable contemporary interpretation of the cycle of beauty, loss, and death in Arcadia.
Markus Lüpertz (b. 1941, Liberec, Bohemia) is one of the most important and influential artists to emerge from post-war Germany. In recent years, major surveys have been presented at the Hirshhorn Museum and the Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Kunst- und Austellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn; Haus der Kunst, Munich; Gemeentemuseum, The Hague; The Hermitage State Museum, St. Petersburg, the Moscow Museum of Modern Art; and Palazzo Loredan, Venice.