Michel Majerus

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Michel Majerus in his Berlin studio 1996, photo: Albrecht Fuchs

Michel Majerus (born June 9, 1967 in Esch-sur-Alzette , Luxembourg ; † November 6, 2002 in Niederanven ) was a Luxembourgish painter and sculptor who worked as an installation. He was best known for the dissolving combination of motifs from art history with those of popular mass culture.

life and work

From 1986 to 1992 Michel Majerus studied at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart. Immediately after completing his studies, he moved to Berlin, where - interrupted by a one-year stay in Los Angeles in 2001 - he lived and worked until his untimely death.

In his pictures there are motifs or characters from popular computer games, such as Super Mario , a portrait of the rock star Marilyn Manson, and at the same time z. B. expressive brushstrokes that are reminiscent of the paintings of Willem de Kooning. The drawing of a molecular chain or the alienated logos of large companies are also extremely suitable for Majerus. With his carefree playful access to the visual worlds that surround us, the artist confronts the legacy of Pop Art. An example of this is his picture oT , 1996, on which Andy Warhol's skull is presented in the colors characteristic of Gerhard Richter.

Majerus received attention in 1998 with his contributions to Manifesta 2 in Luxembourg. Majeru's wall-filling picture " sometimes what is read successfully, stops us with its meaning, no. II " not only went beyond the usual (size) framework for painting, but also caused a sensation with its location in the foyer of a cinema. An oversized sneaker, which seems to be facing the viewer, is set behind by waves designed in pop colors. Then in 1999 Harald Szeemann invited Michel Majerus to design the exterior facade of the Italian pavilion as part of the Venice Biennale . Under the title “ Sun in 10 different directions ” he created a text and image collage.

if we are dead, so it is. Michel Majerus, 2000, installation view from the Kölnischer Kunstverein

At the invitation of Udo Kittelmann at the Kölnischer Kunstverein in 2000, Majerus took an important step in making his painting three-dimensional . There, on the surface of a halfpipe , he took the largest of his pictures with 455 m² under the title if we are dead, so it is out. The halfpipe, which was frequently visited by skaters during the exhibition, was printed with text fragments such as “ fuck the intention of the artist ” as well as with overlapping ovals that look just as lively as the movements of the skaters. In addition, Majerus used motifs from our consumer world such as a dented Bauhaus bag or a kinked Smarties box.

Installation view "controlling the moonlight maze", neugerriemschneider, Berlin 2002

In the Berlin gallery neugerriemschneider, which Majerus has represented since 1994 and now looks after the estate, he showed a high point of his work in 2002 with his installation “ controlling the moonlight maze ”. A metallic frame spans the room and serves as a framework or as an enclosure for four pictures, which are executed on varying supports and using different techniques. It indicates that this is no longer a two-dimensional image, but a three-dimensional image space.

In 2002 Michel Majerus died in a plane crash on the way from Berlin to Luxembourg. His work has since been shown in several retrospective solo exhibitions. In 2005 the Kunsthaus Graz devoted a retrospective to the Landesmuseum Joanneum Majerus. This was followed by exhibitions in the Stedelijk Museum , Amsterdam, in the Kestnergesellschaft , Hanover, in the Deichtorhallen Hamburg and in 2007 finally in the Musée d'Art Moderne Grand Duc Jean, Luxembourg. At the same time, his work was represented in numerous international group exhibitions. From November 2011 to April 2012, the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart will be showing an exhibition of over 100 paintings and installations that will illuminate all facets of Michel Majerus' work.

Solo exhibitions (selection)

  • 1994 painting , neugerriemschneider, Berlin
  • 1996 Kunsthalle Basel, Basel; Galerie Monika Sprüth, Cologne
  • 1997 qualified , Galerie Gio Marconi, Milan
  • 1999 Thai-Ming, Asprey Jacques Gallery, London
  • 2000 if we're dead, so it is , Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne
  • 2001 Eleni Koroneou Gallery, Athens
  • 2002 controlling the moonlight maze , neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Social Palace , Brandenburg Gate, Berlin (with Thomas Bayrle); Leuchtland , Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York; The space is where you'll find it , Delfina, London
  • 2003 pop reloaded , Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin
  • 2004 pop reloaded , Tate Liverpool, Liverpool
  • 2005 what looks good today may not look good tomorrow , Kunsthaus Graz, Graz; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Kestnergesellschaft, Hanover; Deichtorhallen, Hamburg
  • 2006 what looks good today may not look good tomorrow , Musee d'Art Moderne Luxembourg
  • 2011 michel majerus , Kunstmuseum Stuttgart
  • 2018 Michel Majerus - In EUROPE everything appears more serious than in the USA , Kunsthalle Bielefeld


  • Michel Majerus , publisher Kunsthalle Basel, Basel 1996
  • Michel Majerus: Los Angeles , Ed. Jörg Jäger, Cologne 2004
  • Painting Pictures - Painting and Media in the Digital Age , Wolfsburg Art Museum, Bielefeld 2005
  • what looks good today may not look good tomorrow , published by Kunsthaus Graz, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hanover; Musee d'Art Moderne Luxembourg; Cologne 2005
  • if we are dead, so it is , Zurich 2007

Web links

Commons : Michel Majerus  - collection of images, videos and audio files