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Hirshhorn and Phillips Collection To Stage First U.S. Museum Survey of Markus Lüpertz

Dual Exhibitions Present Rare Comprehensive Look at German Painter

January 17, 2017

The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and The Phillips Collection have announced the opening of two exhibitions celebrating the work of artist Markus Lüpertz, one of Germany’s most prominent living artists. This spring collaboration features “Markus Lüpertz: Threads of History” (May 24–Sept. 10) at the Hirshhorn and “Markus Lüpertz” (May 27–Sept. 20) at the Phillips. Together, the exhibitions mark the first in-depth U.S. survey of Lüpertz’s practice, offering American audiences the first chance to see the full creative evolution of a leading neo-expressionist artist of his generation.

Both the Hirshhorn and the Phillips will present distinct yet complementary examinations of Lüpertz’s work. Curated by the Hirshhorn’s Evelyn Hankins, “Markus Lüpertz: Threads of History” offers an in-depth look at Lüpertz’s formative years of 1962 to 1975, providing critical historical context to what was often viewed as provocative use of military images in post-war Germany. The Phillips Collection’s “Markus Lüpertz” is curated by Director Dorothy Kosinski and will trace the entirety of the artist’s five-decade career from the 1960s through the present.

“The collaborative nature of these two exhibitions provides visitors with the rare opportunity to experience an artist’s work from two curatorial perspectives, which, when seen together, provide a unique glimpse into his practice,” said Hirshhorn Director Melissa Chiu. “Lüpertz’s work from the late 1960s and 1970s speaks to the cultural turmoil of the moment, and nearly 50 years later these seminal paintings remain a striking visual response to the weight of history and the psyche of his time.”

“Throughout his remarkable career, Markus Lüpertz has insistently challenged and provoked art historical givens and the norms of modernism,” Kosinski said. “While these exhibitions approach the artist’s work on different timelines in his career, together they allow museum goers and art enthusiasts to delve deeply into the creative process of this prolific artist.”

Lüpertz is internationally recognized as one of the most important figures in neo-expressionist painting, a movement that emerged as a major force in the late 1970s and 1980s. Equally influential, but lesser known, are the works he produced in the early decades of his career, which reflect the artist’s exploration through the lenses of abstract expressionism, pop art and German postwar culture. Highlights include the monumental 40-foot “Westwall [Siegfried Line]” (1968) at the Hirshhorn, which has never been shown in the U.S., and Lüpertz’s striking oil painting “Der große Löffel (The Large Spoon)” (1982) at the Phillips.

A joint catalog will offer new scholarship on Lüpertz’s development, with contributions by both curators and other authors.

This marks the first formal collaboration between the Hirshhorn and the Phillips. The two institutions hosted concurrent exhibitions of artist Bettina Pouttschi in 2016; “Bettina Pousttchi: World Time Clock” remains on view at the Hirshhorn through May 14.

About the Hirshhorn

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is the national museum of modern and contemporary art and a leading voice for 21st-century art and culture. Part of the Smithsonian, the Hirshhorn is located prominently on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. With nearly 12,000 paintings, sculptures, photographs, mixed-media installations, works on paper and new media works, its holdings encompass one of the most important collections of postwar American and European art in the world. The Hirshhorn presents diverse exhibitions and offers an array of public programs on the art of our time—free to all, 364 days a year. For more information, visit

About The Phillips Collection

The Phillips Collection, America’s first museum of modern art, is one of the world’s most distinguished collections of impressionist and modern American and European art. Stressing the continuity between art of the past and present, it offers a strikingly original and experimental approach to modern art by combining works of different nationalities and periods in displays that change frequently. The setting is similarly unconventional, featuring small rooms, a domestic scale and a personal atmosphere. For more information, visit


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Diptych of two abstract paintings
Related photos: 

Markus Lüpertz

Abstract yellow, red and green painting

Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York, London and Märkisch Wilmersdorf. © The Artist

Markus Lüpertz, “Diamant - dithyrambisch,” 1965. Distemper on nettle. 57 x 57 in. Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York, London and Märkisch Wilmersdorf. © The Artist

Related photos: 

Markus Lüpertz

Abstract painting

© 2017 Markus Lüpertz / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Germany Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY

Markus Lüpertz, “Der große Löffel (The Large Spoon),” 1982. Oil on canvas, 79 3/8 x 130 1/2 in. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Anne and Sid Bass Fund and gift of Agnes Gund © 2017 Markus Lüpertz / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Germany