In many respects, Kippenberger is indebted to Andy Warhol for both capitalising the banal, “low” culture of popular media and exchange, in addition to instituting the notion of the artist-as-celebrity. Bob Colacello has commented on such an affinity here, stating: “Andy [Warhol] was the pope of Pop and [Ronald] Reagan was the first pop president” (Bob Colacello, ‘Me and Andy …And Ronald Reagan’, Tate Etc, Autumn 2009, online). Identified as a Selbstdarsteller by Art critic Diedrich Diederichsen – a term he translates as ‘self-performer’ – Kippenberger was an artist who was astutely aware of his own role as an impresario and antagonist, a practitioner with an immense vocabulary of references and styles that he employed with a neurotic wit. As Kippenberger’s seminal Lieber Maler, male mir (1981) series, where Kippenberger hired a sign painter to produce his paintings – would suggest, he toyed with convention and parodied the ruling method, a Warholian mode of production for his paintings in the style of Gerhard Richter. In R.R.R. (Ronald Reagan's Regenschirm), however, Kippenberger adopts his exemplary style of painterly mark-making that is consistent across his oeuvre – a zealous, illustrative quality that pitches figurative subjects against abstract passages of paint.
The present work offers a strong frame of reference in the presidential subject, but does not ask to be read as an explicitly political painting. In the artists self-penned curriculum vitae, Kippenberger lists: "1986 […] Anti-Apartheid Drinking Congress during the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh: the first and only political act in the artist’s work" (Martin Kippenberger, ‘Martin Kippenberger: Life and Work’, in: Exh. Cat., London, Tate Modern, Martin Kippenberger, 2006, p. 168). As a retired actor-turned-politician, Ronald Reagan, instead, represents the reinvented man – a style that Kippenberger adopted as a way of life and precedent for art making. R.R.R. (Ronald Reagan's Regenschirm) demonstrates not only Kippenberger’s audacious dexterity and scope as a draughtsman, but his deepened artistic dialogue with American culture, status symbols and a subversive self-referentialism.
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