Michel Majerus’s visual language freely samples from art history and popular culture, redeploying canonized styles and genres alongside graphics borrowed from youth subcultures and the commercial mainstream. Often combining painting with large-scale installations, Majerus’s complex pictorial worlds include quotations from artists like de Kooning, Warhol, and Basquiat, as well as song lyrics, brand logos, video games, cartoons, and magazine covers. More than any artist of his time, Majerus exemplifies what art historian Daniel Birnbaum calls “painting in the expanded field,” his prolific oeuvre reflecting the prepackaged newness and hybrid spaces of the Information Age. By incorporating the visual vocabularies of next-generation technologies and 1990s consumer culture, Majerus expands on the appropriation art of the 1980s through his pioneering use of digital methods of production, altering the very space of representation itself.
Born in Luxembourg, Michel Majerus (1967 – 2002) lived and worked in Berlin. He studied at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart, and shortly before his untimely death, he spent a year in Los Angeles on a DAAD German Academic Exchange Service Fellowship. In 1996 the Kunsthalle Basel organized a mid-career retrospective and at the 1999 Venice Biennale, he covered the facade of the main Italian Pavilion with a mural he designed. For his one-person exhibition at the Kölnischer Kunstverein in Cologne in 2000, Majerus created one of the largest works of his career, a 400-square-meter skateboard ramp. Since Majerus’s death, several European museums have organized posthumous exhibitions of his work, including the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2003), the Tate Liverpool (2004), the Kunsthaus Graz (2005), and the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart (2011). Majerus’s work is included in many prestigious international museums, including the Tate, London, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt.