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Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction

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Martin Kippenberger
1953 - 1997
R.R.R. (RONALD REAGAN'S REGENSCHIRM)
titled
oil and plastic toys on canvas
120 by 100 cm. 47 1/4 by 39 3/8 in.
Executed in 1982.
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Provenance

Galerie Grässlin, Frankfurt
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Exhibited

Ulm, Studio f, Kippenberger zum Thema ‘Fiffen, Faufen und Verfaufen’, October - December 1982
Stuttgart, Galerie Max Hetzler, Werner Büttner. Martin Kippenberger. Albert Oehlen. Markus Oehlen, February - March 1983, pp. 50-51, illustrated
New York, Petzel Gallery, Martin Kippenberger, Albert Oehlen, Dana Schutz, September - October 2018

Catalogue Note

Martin Kippenberger’s 1982 painting R.R.R. (Ronald Reagan's Regenschirm) [Ronald Reagan’s Umbrella] is a uniquely timely and political work in the practice of one of the most important artists of the twentieth century. The illustrative and textual painting that depicts the 40th President of the United States and his wife, Nancy Reagan, is superbly spirited; combining the painterly vigour that was becoming synonymous with a group of German artists working in Berlin and Cologne in the early 1980s – including Werner Büttner, Walter Dahn, and Albert Oehlen – and the Pop psychology of American culture that Kippenberger scrutinised throughout his career.

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.

Contemporary Art Day Auction

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London