Persona December, 4th 2020 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 292 - Martin Kippenberger

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World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 292 – Martin Kippenberger
Martin Kippenberger is considered one of the most talented German artists of his generation. He was at the center of a generation of German enfants terribles, including Albert Oehlen, Markus Oehlen, Werner Büttner, Georg Herold, Dieter Göls and Günther Förg.
He did not want to limit himself to a style or a medium. He made sculptures, paintings, works on paper, photographs, installations and prints. In the meantime, he drank vigorously all the while, so vigorously that he did not grow old. At 44 he died of liver cancer in a Vienna hospital.

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Martin Kippenberger was born in Dortmund in 1953. He was the only boy in a family with five children, two older and two younger sisters. His father was director of the Katharina-Elisabeth colliery, his mother a dermatologist. When Kippenberger’s mother was killed by a pallet that fell off a truck, he inherited enough money to live on.

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He went to study at the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg, where Sigmar Polke influenced him, although he did not take his lessons directly from him. After a stay in Florence, where he had his first solo exhibition in 1977, he settled in Berlin in 1978. In that year he founded Kippenberger’s Office with Gisela Capitain, where he organized exhibitions of his own art and that of his friends.

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During the same period, Kippenberger also became the business director of SO36, a performance, film and music space, and started a punk band called the Grugas, which recorded a single entitled Luxus. He left Berlin and arrived in Cologne in the early eighties via Paris, where he became an active member of the art scene.
He set things in motion, whether in Cologne, Vienna at the Hetzler Galerie, Los Angeles and elsewhere. In addition, he was simultaneously a clown and a strategist. Creating a work of art was one thing, presenting another. He came up with new ways to do that, including special shows to bring in the audience and the critics.

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Salvador de Bahia
In the eighties politics began to play a role in his work. On a trip to Brazil in 1986, he bought a seaside gas station in Salvador de Bahia and named it the Martin Bormann Gas Station (Martin Bormann was a prominent Nazi).

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There was much talk at the time about the “death of painting”. Kippenberger also struggled with it. For example, he made Blass vor Neid steht er vor deiner Tür (Pale of jealousy he is at your door), twenty-one separate canvases that are shown together as one work, but each canvas has a separate title and there is no style. He makes a first series of works that refer to Picasso as the ultimate modern icon of art.

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Based on a photo of Picasso with a big belly and underpants on the steps of Château Vauvenargues, Kippenberger parodies himself as Picasso in underpants in a series of self-portraits. He did that in Carmona, Spain. In 1988 he lives in Spain, in Seville and Madrid, and makes the Laterne (street lamp) sculptures, such as Laterne an Betrunkene (‘Street lamp for drunkards’) which became even more famous when it was shown at the 1988 Venice Biennale.
In 1990 he stays in New York and makes his latex or rubber paintings. Influenced by the Lost Art Movement, he gets the idea for an underground network that encircles the entire world. In the Metro-Net World Connection series (1993–97) he makes a piece of the metro grid, with the sound of trains and gusts of wind.
In The Happy End of Franz Kafka’s America (1994), he explores the utopia of universal employment. He turns Kafka’s idea of joint job interviews into a work of art. The installation consists of a diverse assortment of objects and furniture, in a space in which mass interviews can be held.

von Christie’s, London 2015 -8

Hotel drawings
During the last 10 years of his life, Kippenberger (1953-1997) made a series of drawings on hotel paper, the ‘hotel drawings’ (1987–1997). He used the countless letterheads of countless hotels to record subjects and ideas. Entire series arose, including portraits of scientists, Frank Sinatra, war scenes, etc. In the last two series, Kippenberger poses as Picasso’s last wife, Jacqueline, entitled The Paintings Pablo Couldn’t Paint Anymore.

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In 1985 he exhibited in New York ‘Buying America and Selling El Salvador’, a large installation with numerous sculptural works. Although he had his first major museum exhibition in 1986 at the Hessisches Landesmuseum in Darmstadt, he attracted more attention with exhibitions elsewhere, such as at the Centre Pompidou in Paris (1993) and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam (1994), Tate Modern (2006), Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2008), Museum of Modern Art, New York (2009). In 2011 the Museo Picasso Malaga organized ‘Kippenberger Meets Picasso’.
In 2013, the newly established Greek Organization for Culture and Development, NEON, presented the work of the German artist in the exhibition A Cry for Freedom, at the Museum of Cycladic Art, in Athens.

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Picasso in underwear
Kippenberger’s self-portraits have yielded the highest amounts. In 2012 an untitled self-portrait sold for £ 3.2 million ($ 5.1 million) at Christie’s London. In 2014, Kippenberger’s self-titled self-portrait from 1988, featuring a photo of 81-year-old Picasso in his white underwear, taken by David Douglas Duncan, grossed $ 18.6 million. Later that year, Larry Gagosian purchased a 1988 self-portrait from Kippenberger, showing the artist in his underwear, for $ 22.5 million from Christie’s New York.
1) Metro series, Transportabler U-Bahn-Eingang, 2007, Switzerland, Graubunden, 2) Hotel drawings, Untitled (Self Portrait, Chelsea Hotel, 1990), 3) Blass vor Neid stehet er vor deiner Tur, 4) Selfportrait as Picasso in underwear, 5 ) Laterne an Betrunkene, 6) The Happy End of Franz Kafka’s ‘America’, 7) Buying and Selling El Salvador, 8) Untitled, 1992, 9) Untitled (Jacqueline Picasso), 10) Martin Kippenberger

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