// IN THE AB­STRACT

TWO HEAVY HIT­TERS ON THE DC MU­SEUM SCENE TEAM UP FOR THE FIRST MA­JOR US SUR­VEY OF MAR US LÜPERTZ’S WORK.

Capitol File - - CONTENTS - BY KRISTON CAPPS

Two heavy hit­ters on the DC mu­seum scene team up for the first ma­jor US sur­vey of Markus Lüpertz’s work.

This sum­mer, DC mu­seum-go­ers will add a new word to their vo­cab­u­lary: dithyra­m­bic. It’s a term that pops up over and over in the work of Markus Lüpertz, a Neo-Ex­pres­sion­ist painter whose art will be on view at both the Phillips Col­lec­tion and the Hir­sh­horn Mu­seum and Sculp­ture Gar­den. The un­likely col­lab­o­ra­tion is bring­ing in dozens of works span­ning five decades and rang­ing from the col­or­ful to the cryp­tic.

A dithyramb, as Phillips Col­lec­tion di­rec­tor Dorothy Kosin­ski ex­plains, is a choral hymn that ap­pears in an­cient Greek texts, typ­i­cally an im­pro­vised verse in po­ems and songs de­voted to Diony­sus, the god of the­ater, wine, ec­stasy, and mad­ness. Lüpertz’s ex­pres­sive paint­ings dive into re­li­gion and rit­ual but from a slightly dif­fer­ent point than the god of the hearth. “Iron­i­cally, he uses the most or­di­nary ob­jects in his dithyra­m­bic paint­ings to chal­lenge nor­mal ideas about ab­strac­tion,” says Kosin­ski, who cu­rated the com­pre­hen­sive sur­vey of Lüpertz’s paint­ings at the Phillips Col­lec­tion.

The Hir­sh­horn, mean­while, is tak­ing a nar­rower ap­proach, fo­cus­ing tightly on early ma­ture works the artist made be­tween 1962 and 1975, in­clud­ing one 40-foot-long paint­ing, West­wall (Siegfried Line). This show in­cludes paint­ings of a va­ri­ety of sub­jects—from Don­ald Duck to Ger­man mil­i­tary mo­tifs—all of which tend to serve the same pur­pose in his work. “Mo­tifs, for Lüpertz, pro­vided the im­pe­tus to trig­ger the creative process, but he saw them as ul­ti­mately be­ing drained of con­tent by the very act of mak­ing art,” says Eve­lyn Hank­ins, cu­ra­tor for the Hir­sh­horn. Twin Lüpertz ex­hibits will rep­re­sent a turn from the fes­tive spring shows at both in­sti­tu­tions (Toulouse-Lautrec at the Phillips, Yayoi Kusama at the Hir­sh­horn). Hav­ing two pre­sen­ta­tions—the first in-depth sur­veys of Lüpertz at any US mu­seum—will help view­ers get to know

MaUNXs /¾pHUW] has shoZs aW WhH +iUsh­hoUQ aQG WhH PhiOOips &oOOHcWioQ

FROM TOƩ Don­ald Ducks Hochzeit (Don­ald Duck’s Wed­ding) aQG West­wall (Siegfried Line) EoWh aW WhH +iUsh­hoUQ OƩƩOƬITE FROM TOƩ Der große Löf­fel (The Large Spoon) aW WhH PhiOOips &oOOHcWioQ aQG Helme sink­end—dithyra­m­bisch (Hel­mets Sink­ing—Dithyra­m­bic), aW WhH +iUsh­hoUQ

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