In his short life Michel Majerus developed a dazzling visual language, freely sampling from art history and popular culture in works that often combined painting with large-scale installations. His complex and inventive pictorial world, which redeployed canonized styles and genres alongside graphics from youth subcultures and the commercial mainstream, includes quotations from artists like de Kooning, Warhol, and Basquiat, as well as song lyrics, brand logos, video games, and cartoons. Majerus died in a plane crash in 2002 at the age of thirty-five. During his brief but protean career he exemplified what art historian Daniel Birnbaum calls “painting in the expanded field,” and his remarkable oeuvre, perhaps more than any other of its time, reflects the prepackaged newness and hybrid spaces of the information age.
Michel Majerus (1967–2002) was born in Luxembourg and lived and worked in Berlin. In 1996 he had a one-person exhibition at the Kunsthalle Basel, and at the 1999 Venice Biennale he created a mural that covered the facade of the Main Pavilion. For his one-person exhibition at the Kölnischer Kunstverein the following year, he created his largest work, a 4000-square-foot skateboard ramp. Several European museums have organized posthumous exhibitions, including the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, Tate Liverpool in the United Kingdom, Kunsthaus Graz in Austria, and the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart in Germany. The first solo museum exhibition of his work in the United States opens in December 2020 at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Miami.