Max Frintrop’s Singular Paintings Demand an In-Person Experience

  • Installation view of “Max Frintrop: You Should Be Here” at Anderson’s Contemporary, Copenhagen. Courtesy Anderson’s Contemporary and the artist.

The German painter Max Frintrop has a romantic origin story that reflects his gestural, stripped-down artistic style. Raised in a town dominated by the coal and steel industry, one of his earliest gigs was as an aid in a shelter for children injured in war. It was during this time, working at night, that he says he found his attachment to painting. 

Frintrop has said that he seeks to find a balance between “precision and looseness” in his work, which often takes the form of a surprisingly graphic piece of abstract art. Early on, he was interested in combining the emotive, gestural quality of Abstract Expressionism and the relative rigidity of Constructivism, a genre of painting influenced by the hard lines and careful placement of industrial-age machines. One might imagine Frintrop’s interest in the latter was influenced by his youth spent around large-scale manufacturing. 

  • Installation view of “Max Frintrop: You Should Be Here” at Anderson’s Contemporary, Copenhagen. Courtesy Anderson’s Contemporary and the artist.

Midway through his career, the collision of those influences produced a distinctive style, one that utilizes the organic and sentimental marks at the core of Frintrop’s favored materials, acrylic and pigment. But those marks, bound by hard angles and geometric shapes, are tightly controlled. In paintings such as Untitled (Enki) and Hej ven (both 2015), currently on view in the exhibition “You should be here” at Andersen’s Contemporary, an abundance of negative space gives the artist’s carefully honed color palette an anxious quality. More sprawling pieces, like Die Farbe aus dem All (2015), recreate natural forms recalling root systems or speckles of stars, the slashes of color no less controlled, yet each suggesting an entirely different painterly language. 

Frintrop plays in these ways with the inherent flatness of his medium; in a digital world in which information is mutated and multi-platform, the painter seeks a stripped-down and singular experience. “To really know what these paintings are,” Frintrop has said, “you should be here.” 


—M. Osberg


You Should Be Here” is on view at Anderson’s Contemporary, Copenhagen, Oct. 8–Nov. 13, 2015.


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