Martin Kippenberger - Contemporary Art Part I New York Thursday, May 17, 2007 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin; Private collection, Southern Germany

  • Exhibited

    Cologne, Galerie Max Hetzler, Martin Kippenberger Fred the frog rings the bell once a penny two hot cross buns, 1991

  • Literature

    Galerie Max Hetzler, ed., Martin Kippenberger Fred the frog rings the bell once a penny two a penny hot cross buns, Cologne, 1991 p. 51 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Martin Kippenberger’s picture, Untitled, from 1990 acts in many regards as a summation for the personal afflictions and themes the artist underwent during this period. Having moved from Germany to Los Angeles in late 1989 in part to meet the artists playing a crucial role in the contemporary L.A. scene, Kippenberger’s travels resulted in a personal and artistic journey as he explored the American west coast and fell in love with the ‘car culture’, despite not having a license to drive himself. He endeavoured to barter his artwork for what he termed ‘the great big American car’- an apex of American cultural standing in his mind—yet ended up gaining a second rate car despite his efforts.

    Four levels of motif can be made out in the present lot: in the background there is a large blue circle, possibly a variation on a car symbol, and on it are two horns of the kind that Kippenberger may have seen on the bonnets of souped-up cars or bikers’ helmets. Within this swirling circle we see, three times over, the identical silhouette of an American police car. A fried egg is at the center of the circle, and looming up behind it is the artist’s body, holding up his foaming beer-mug. And finally the words ‘Jahrgang (class)’, ‘test’, ‘Mischung (mixture)’ and ‘weiblich (feminine)’ are written around the blue circle in varying typefaces. The same beer-mug had appeared as a symbol of the artist in the spectacularly-carved work Fred the Frog am Künstlerkreuz (Fred the Frog on the Artist’s Cross), from late 1990. Other symbols include a fried egg, which was prominent in another work by the artist dating from 1988, an Untitled work in which a finger is pointing out of the yolk at a crucified figure in the background. The Crucifixion as a clichéd topos of suffering in the contemporary artistic myth occurs as early as 1981 in Kippenberger’s work.

    Thus the present lot links the cult of the American car and a crude and literal treatment of Christian iconography (the association of eggs with the Immaculate Conception and the Birth of Christ), with the myth of the drinking, suffering artist which ultimately brought to a short end Kippenberger’s passionate life and career.



Oil on canvas.
94 1/2 x 78 3/4 in. (240 x 200 cm).
Signed and dated "Kippenberger 90" on the reverse.

$500,000 - 700,000 

Sold for $540,000

Contemporary Art Part I

17 May 2007
7pm New York