- Martin Kippenberger
- acrylic on canvas
Galerie Wewerka, Berlin
Acquired by the present owner from the above circa 1990
Madrid, Palacio de Velázquez, Parque del Retiro, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Martin Kippenberger, October 2004 - January 2005, pp. 64-65, illustrated in color (as Braver Junge, immer brav [Good boy, always good]), and illustrated in color as a frontispiece (detail)
New York, Gagosian Gallery, Martin Kippenberger, "Lieber Maler, male mir/Dear Painter, paint for me," March - April 2005, p. 25, illustrated in color
Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art; New York, Museum of Modern Art, Martin Kippenberger: The Problem Perspective, September 2008 - May 2009, pp. 66-67, illustrated in color
Berlin, Hamburger Bahnhof, Martin Kippenberger: Sehr Gut/Very Good, February - August 2013
Exh. Cat., Vienna, Galerie Bleich-Rossi, Martin Kippenberger, Schwarz Brot Gold, 1990, illustrated in installation
Rainer Speck, Martin Kippenberger: Bei Nichtgefallen Gefühle zurück, Die gesamten Karten 1989-1997, Cologne, 2000, cat. no. 111, illustrated (on the brochure for the exhibition Schwarz Brot Gold, Galerie Bleich-Rossi, Vienna, 1990)
Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Martin Kippenberger, Books 1977-1997, Cologne, 2002, pp. 209 and 234, illustrated (in installation at the exhibition Schwarz Brot Gold, Galerie Bleich-Rossi, Vienna, 1990)
Exh. Cat., Vienna, Galerie Bleich-Rossi, Martin Kippenberger - 25 Jahre Galerie Bleich-Rossi, 2007, p. 62, illustrated in color (on the invitation booklet for the exhibition Schwarz Brot Gold, 1990)
Another intriguing layer of complexity is introduced into the composition of Untitled by the presence of Kippenberger himself in the image, placing the work firmly within the context of the artist’s highly significant career-long investigation into the possibilities of self-portraiture. The genre enabled Kippenberger knowingly to celebrate and deride the narcissistic self-promotion that functions as the necessary evil of an artist-celebrity persona, and proved a crucial facet to the development of his varied and wide-ranging artistic practice. There is also an inherent, exquisite irony in the presentation of Untitled as a self-portrait once the conditions surrounding the creation of the Lieber Maler, Male Mir are taken into account. Kippenberger stands nonchalantly in front of a seemingly abandoned Berlin souvenir stand, between the East German DDR emblems and presumably in the shadow of the Berlin Wall, aping the style and pose of a cowboy in his Stetson hat and fur-adorned coat. The choice of attire and the word ‘Souvenirs,’ prominently displayed above Kippenberger’s head, indicates a commentary on the pervasiveness of American consumerism, obliquely connecting Untitled with the earlier work of Pop Artists such as Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg, as well as to Richard Prince’s renowned Cowboy series, which arose from Marlboro Man advertisements in the early 1980s.
The two posters included within the background, commemorating thirty years since East Germany came into existence, imbue Untitled with loaded political and historical connotations. Alison Gingeras argues: “The two posters… not only made reference to the tourist industry’s exploitation of Eastern bloc fascination in 1980s Berlin; it also alludes to Kippenberger’s calculated use of realism as an ideologically charged genre with historical ties to Soviet bloc countries. Extrapolating from Barbara Straka’s catalogue essay entitled 'Realismusstudio 14: Werner Kippenberger’… it is plausible to conclude that Kippenberger’s use of realism was an antagonistic political gesture. Not only did it look dated, this style of representation, even when used ironically, was politically on the wrong side of the wall.” (Alison Gingeras in Exh. Cat., New York, Gagosian Gallery, Martin Kippenberger, Lieber Maler, male mir, 2005, p. 13) This reference to the Berlin Wall is of crucial importance: born in Dortmund in 1953 and living in Berlin from 1978, Kippenberger lived through all the tense drama of the complex political situation within Germany during this entire period. Between 1961 and 1989 the Wall ruthlessly divided Communist East Berlin from its liberated Western counterpart, a state of affairs that exerted huge influence on social and cultural life within the country. Untitled can thus be read in part as a work of political and social commentary as well as a subtly seditious indictment of cultural norms. By inverting the painter’s role, yet still maintaining his artistic integrity, Kippenberger succeeds in transcending conventional artistic ideals, creating a work in which high and low culture combine in a manner that magnificently encapsulates the artist’s legendary talent for cultural subversion.
One of the most ground-breaking and consistently innovative artists of the late Twentieth Century, Martin Kippenberger produced work of astonishing variety throughout his career, utilizing the potential of an incredibly diverse range of media including sculpture, installation, photography and painting to forge an utterly unique creative language. Resisting any attempts at conventional definition and linearity, Kippenberger’s body of work challenges traditional art historical notions and concepts, providing an often mocking commentary on accepted cultural and social mores whilst subverting commonly accepted artistic expectations. Combining wry humor with a frequently satirical viewpoint and an astonishing imaginative flair, Kippenberger’s work encourages us to view the seemingly quotidian in a novel light. His influence on younger artists led Jeremy Strick to describe Kippenberger as “One of the most significant and essential artists of his generation… Kippenberger’s reputation extends far beyond the German context of his emergence in the late 1970s.” (Jeremy Strick, Director’s Forward in Exh. Cat., Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art (and travelling), Martin Kippenberger: The Problem Perspective, 2008, p. 12)