Lot 106
  • 106

Martin Kippenberger

200,000 - 300,000 EUR
1,072,750 EUR
bidding is closed


  • Martin Kippenberger
  • Dinosaurierei

  • signed with the artist's initials and dated 96; signed with the artist's initials and dated 96 on the reverse
  • oil on canvas


Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne
Acquired directly from the above by Wim Beeren for the Peter Stuyvesant Collection in 1996


Amsterdam, BAT offices (& travelling), Growth in the Peter Stuyvesant Collection, 1997, no. 26, illustrated in colour
Karlsruhe, Museum für Neue Kunst, Martin Kippenberger: Das 2. Sein, 2003, p. 155, illustrated in colour


Catalogue Note

Executed in 1996, Dinosaurierei (Dinosaur Egg) belongs to Martin Kippenberger's most iconic series of Eierbilder (Egg Paintings) and was one of the last masterpieces he completed before his abrupt and untimely death at the age of 44 the following year. The egg had first appeared in Kippenberger's work in Eiermann aus Amsterdam, 1981, and had subsequently recurred as a motif and source of inspiration in some of his key paintings throughout the decade; most notably, perhaps, in the Picasso inspired self-portrait in which the artist's introspective y-fronted form meets the viewer's gaze reflected from within an egg-like mirror. By the mid 1990s the egg had become a signature motif for Kippenberger, and was acknowledged by the artist as such in typically humorous fashion: "In painting you have to be on the lookout for the windfall fruit still left for you to paint. Justice hasn't been done to the egg, justice hasn't been done to fried egg, Warhol's already had the banana. So you take a form, it's always about sharp edges, a square, this and this format, the golden section. An egg is white and flat, how can that turn into a coloured picture?" (Kippenberger in "Parachever Picasso/Completing Picasso," Interview between the artist and Daniel Baumann, in Exhibition Catalogue, London, Tate Modern, Martin Kippenberger, 2006, p.63)

Whether crushed, fried, hatching or with shell intact, Kippenberger's art embraced the egg as much for its inherent subjective irony as for its flat, circular form. Most of all though he was drawn to its ambiguous symbolic capacity and as an arena for various creative endeavours, and by the end of his life, he had produced enough material around the theme of the egg that he was able to fill a museum exhibition devoted entirely to the subject Der Eiermann und seine Ableger (The Eggman and His Outriggers), 1997.

Monumental in scale, this important work combines a dazzling display of painterly bravura with multi-layered psychological intensity, epitomizing in both its subject and form the salient and most celebrated features of Kippenberger's consummately varied artistic output. Specifically the choice of a dinosaur egg here can be seen as a tongue-in-cheek commentary on Kippenberger's decidedly ambivalent relationship to painting; a medium which, for many critics, was considered dead or extinct. It also reflects a prevailing contemporary fascination with dinosaurs during the mid 1990s that followed the blockbuster success of Steven Spielberg's hit movie Jurassic Park. Dinosaurierei, then, was Kippenberger's resurrection of painting; evidence of similarly impossible yet glorious re-birth.

During his short and colourful career, Kippenberger was viewed as the enfant terrible of twentieth century art and as hailed Europe's answer to Andy Warhol's Pop art legacy. He took on with bravura the illustrious tradition of painting in German art at a time when it had seemingly lost its relevance and sense of direction. He advocated it as art's noblest form, whilst deliberately choosing arbitrary, often comical objects to become the immortalised representatives of its everyday world. Striving to incorporate every realm of reality into his work and break away from any suggestion of artistic conventionalism, his eclectic approach to subject, scale and medium married all forms of art and life with culture, society, pop and politics. Kippenberger assiduously constructed his fame from his own sense of self-derision, celebrating himself as artist, collector and curator. It is his withering sense of irony that allowed him to exemplify like no other artist the tenebrionid by taking away society's own darkness and failures and reflecting them back onto the world.

Executed months before he died, Dinosaurierei acts as a poignant metaphor for the artist's acute feeling of vulnerability. Both a metaphysical self-portrait and a reflection of the times in which he lived, as a suitable subject for his art, it encapsulates the complex, ungraspable and playful conceptual tourbillion that characterises so much of his oeuvre. Indeed it is the very ambivalence and ambiguity of the motif that seduced Kippenberger and allowed him to 'go through the to and fro between the arbitrariness and meaning, cuteness and complexity, crassness and fragility', solving the ultimate equation of 'form with content'. (Lucy McKenzie cited in 'Now that this has been done it will never be done again' in Exhibition Catalogue, Wien, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Nach Kippenberger, 2003-2004, p. 205)