Maria Bowman looks satisfied. You have a lot of Marcus Lubeertz originals on your desk, says the Director of Art Collections for the Diocese of Regensburg. Lots of drafts and drawings were planned for his fall exhibition in Ortisei. “He’s passionate about that,” says the curator, who has been negotiating with the artist for a year. Not only because of the show titled “The Divine Spark II” but also because of the idea of designing five windows in the Gothic church according to his designs. At least if enough sponsors are found.
The official occasion of the exhibition is the 80th birthday of the painter and sculptor. Lüpertz is no stranger to town. In 2018, he designed the stage set for the baroque opera “Una cosa rara” for the Regensburg Theater and is represented regularly in the Art Affair Gallery. The Ostdeutsche Galerie Art Forum honored the artist, who was born in Reichenberg, in the Czech Republic, with a major exhibition in 2010. This is a “truly cultural corner” here, Lopertz said during a press conference in Ortisei. A statement that made area chief Axel Bartlett floundering. Despite all the humility of the locals, this is not a corner here, but the heart of the Upper Palatinate, insisted, but cordially admitted that Lüpertz would further strengthen it.
Ortisei is one of the oldest Gothic church buildings in Germany. The exceptional building was constructed as a ducal palace church between 1220 and 30 next to the then Roman Cathedral. Builders dared approach the new French architectural forms for the first time, based on the cathedrals of Paris and Laon. After centuries as a cathedral parish church, the building fell into the hands of the state as a result of secularization, and has since provided space for museums and more recently housed the parish art collections. After the general renovation, it will be the diocesan museum again, says Bowman, who is in the middle of the remodeling process. As long as she plans, the loft will be used for special exhibitions.
Church windows take up a lot of space in Lüpertz’s works. As a devout Catholic, he was often active in church rooms. Whether for the French cathedral Saint-Cyr-et-Sainte-Julitte or the Dominican Church of Saint Andreas in Cologne, whether in Landsberg-Gütz, Lippstadt or Bamberg – “painting with light” (Lüpertz) dazzles him. Bowman got to know the artist in Cologne when he showed her the windows of his home there. She returned the favor with a tour of Ortisei. “He was immediately mesmerized.” Lüpertz suggested combining his massive plaster and stained glass forms with church window designs in the gallery. He says he has already developed an idea for a room in Italy. But nothing came of it, “as is often the case in Italy.” But St. Ulrich is more perfect to implement this idea. He’s really looking to blend in with this lovely space. “Definitely an experiment, but it’s always the thing that’s exciting about it.”
It was indeed possible to assert himself as an artist of the day in this Gothic environment, said Loberts, who was always very elegant, let his gazes wander around the room and lectured for a while on the fact that the quality of the artist can only be compared to other artists. “He has to put up with the fact that he is being compared to great pasts and that this results in a quality evaluation of his work.” No problem for Lüpertz, of course, but for most critics, because they don’t have an education that they can really compare in the context of Matisse, Picasso, or Goya. “Only then can you allow yourself to judge.”
He wants enthusiasm and faith from the viewers of his exhibition. The latter is especially important, because art simply cannot be judged by contemporaries: “You can only believe that an artist is doing what he is doing is serious or good.” If the belief is missing and only personal taste and entertainment value are used as criteria for evaluating art, then this is difficult. But art now shares this problem with religion. “People do not believe the artist or the priest.” If enthusiasm, dedication and affirmation were missing, the artist, the “lyrical poetic conscience of the community,” would be in an ironic empty space. “But there is no art without a viewer, a picture is only complete with a vision.” It was precisely this moment that haunted him throughout his life, prompting him to design exhibitions in order to repeatedly counter this “criticism of the faith” and fight “the twilight of the gods”.
No wonder Rudolf Wuderholzer, Bishop of Regensburg thanked the “picture painter and sculptor” (Luberts) for a minor basic theology. For him, Lüpertz, in his originality, is a true Marcus evangelist who prompts people to take a closer look. And whoever looks at an 80-year-old like Ulrichskirche in 800, added the district chief, a comparison Lüpertz loved a Christmas shy. He said, “It really encouraged me now,” waving his wand and quickly climbed into the gallery.
There he is much closer to the windows that he wants to design. He says he already has enough ideas for that. Now the only thing missing is money to continue the history of glass art in Regensburg.