Munich (dpa) – Leon Löwentraut does not lack self-confidence. “I want to attend the greatest museums in the world and I will pursue my goals in this regard with all vigor,” he told the German press agency in Munich, where his exhibition “Leonismo” was presented at the Bavarian National Museum. since this weekend – for the first time in Germany after stops in Mallorca and Venice.

“Anything that can be imagined can also be achieved and everything I have announced so far has actually happened.”

Löwentraut is only 23 years old – and has been in business for years. Some see him as an aspiring, talented and promising artist – others just an aspiring marketing genius, more than the painter’s genius.

Instagram is his platform

Löwentraut has over 223,000 followers on Instagram, showing off with celebrities like star violinist David Garrett, Rammstein frontman Till Lindemann or Chancellor Angela Merkel, in old-fashioned cross-country suits, legs spread in front of yachts white people, in serious model pose, painting in her studio.

“At the moment Instagram is actually a platform for me that I deal with a lot – just to showcase what I do,” he says. He manages to interest young people in art, “because he speaks the same language as them”, explains Manfred Möller, curator of the “Leonismo” exhibition. Löwentraut “got a voice on the contemporary art scene in a short time and he managed to spark the enthusiasm of a new generation for art. Young art lovers follow him on Facebook and Instagram, visit his exhibitions and collect his works. This year, Forbes magazine included him in the list of the 30 most important people under 30 in German-speaking countries.

Trade and staging

The director of the famous Munich auction house Ketterer, Robert Ketterer, talks about the “Löwentraut phenomenon”. “For me, it is a phenomenon that I have observed for a long time with something between a smile and astonishment”, he confides. He sees it as a “very commercial art”. “He’s just painting on it and trying to come up with a style that he thinks will be popular, a style that caters to the target group and doesn’t come by himself,” says Ketterer.

From his point of view, there is not much demand for his art in the art market: “There is probably a very good reason why he does not play a role in the art market. international. The few images that are on the auction now cost a lot less money than expected, says Ketterer – and is right. The 2015 Löwentraut “human masks” went under the hammer in 2018 at the Munich auction house Neumeister for 22,860 euros (including the buy-in premium). Previously, between 30,000 and 50,000 euros were estimated.

Löwentraut’s brightly-colored, vividly colored, often large-format images, on which he usually presses the paint straight from the tube, is somehow reminiscent of Pablo Picasso, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jackson Pollock. Löwentraut calls “people, figures, masks and silhouettes” its specialties. Löwentraut also seems to be orienting himself on the photos we know of Pollock from his studio when he presents himself on Instagram.

Gallerists and artists

To be honest, I sometimes find it difficult the way gallery owners talk about young artists, ”Löwentraut explains. “How many paintings have these gallery owners already painted? Do they really know what it’s like to be in the studio? It is also a very extreme effort. An artist is born as an artist and has no choice but to be an artist and deal with art and life. “

Art economist Roman Kräussl has a completely different view of the “Löwentraut phenomenon”: “In fact, he’s doing everything right now, pure pop culture,” explains the professor, who teaches and does research at universities of Luxembourg and Stanford. “Leon is very popular, also because these young, commercially successful artists are extremely rare in Germany. There are of his kind everywhere else. “

When Löwentraut appeared on Stefan Raab’s “TV Total” show at the age of only 16, it was perfect. “After that he did not go from the province of Kaiserslautern to Berlin, Hamburg or Munich, but – as has always been the norm for well-trained German artists – to Düsseldorf.” There, Löwentraut was rejected by the Academy of Fine Arts, but now there is one of its two studios.

It offers little target

“Löwentraut seems sympathetic to young art enthusiasts, he doesn’t introduce himself as the new Gerhard Richter via Instagram, and he doesn’t attract attention with suggestive comments about female artists.” The projects he participates in have been carefully selected – like the latest # Art4GlobalGoals, for which he painted 17 paintings under the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. “So far it has offered little public attack surface – and this is important for collectors,” says Kräussl.

The art market expert sees great opportunities for Löwentraut, especially outside Germany, notably in Amsterdam, Copenhagen and London – “in younger, more dynamic and also more open-minded art scenes. financial art ”.

In Germany, this aspect of the art collection, especially among young artists, is still frowned upon, says Kräussl – unlike in international metropolises. “Löwentraut paints well and in an exciting way, and I am personally happy that we have this artist in Germany. Löwentraut may already be a small mini-brand in Germany, but little known internationally. “

However, that could change in the near future. “Löwentraut offers interesting work,” says Kräussl. “If it finds an experienced and well-networked gallery, I definitely believe in its potential for an international market.”