Martin Kippenberger - Contemporary Art Part I New York Wednesday, May 13, 2009 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Bärbel Grässlin, Frankfurt; Private collection, Europe

  • Catalogue Essay

    Martin Kippenberger: But somehow one is sincere. One really wants to tell just heart and blood, and about the gastric acid. One just tries to do justice to everything. One wants to reach the people. In fact, one is a small priest, isn’t one? So, somehow, parson—parson? Pastor—I’m a pastor. And pastor means translated…
    Jutta Koether: Shepherd.
    Martin Kippenberger: Shepherd. Yeah. And somehow I have something like it, haven’t I? I’m the holy Saint Martin. There is the half-half-half, isn’t it? Everybody should have it nice and warm in his corner. Yeah. In the calm corner [blows into the microphone]. We’re all searching for it, and if you know where it is, then you may rent it—at first [laughs]. That’s exciting. That’s dynamic. And that’s what I’ve already been when I was a kid, no matter whether it was with alcoholism or with drugs or something else. I’ve always been soooo…fast; always watched the sky too. Looked out the window at school, so I wasn’t quite concentrated—though, of course, very concentrated in other matters—watching!
    (J. Koether, ed. “One has to be able to take it! Excerpts from an interview with Martin Kippenberger by Jutta Koether, November 1990 – May 1991,” Martin Kippenberger: The Problem Perspective, Cambridge, 2008, p. 320)
    In his short life, Martin Kippenberger created a unique, provocative body of work centered on the role of the artist in culture that has established him as one of the most significant and influential artists of his generation. In his diverse practice, the artist could be inspired by anything he encountered to create a work of art as a painting, work on paper, sculpture, invitation or poster.Taking on the accepted high art of painting, Kippenberger found the perfect self-reflective platform to question everything about what it means to be an artist and the creative act of making art itself.With his famously larger-than-life personality, he took on the role of provocateur.
    "The boundaries between art and life, public and private, were not so much traversed in Kippenberger’s enterprise as they were destabilized through his embrace of their contradictions. That instability is fundamental to his challenge to the spectator. To encounter a work by Kippenberger is to experience the discomfort and embarrassment of getting too close, of knowingmore than one would wish to know or admit, of confronting something that is banal and annoying, that dismisses received notions of right or wrong. His work is not simply about getting to the truth or unearthing dirty secrets, but about uncovering the mechanisms that produce meaning and the ways in which they define the role and position of the artist,"
    (A. Goldstein, “The Problem Perspective,” Martin Kippenberger: The Problem Perspective, Cambridge, 2008, p. 40).
    In his paintings of the mid-1980s, Kippenberger continued to explore identity on a personal, regional and national level, dealing with subjects such as Socialism, Communism and even Nazi history. In the present lot, New York zum Russisch Abbinden (NYZRA), 1985, the artist takes on the subject of the Cold War which had reached a critical moment in this time period. The painting contains the romantic image of the NewYork skyline split between four canvases joined together. The gaps between the canvas suggest that there is something disjointed, fragile, or perhaps even corrupt within this symbol of Western capitalism and power.
    In his typically antagonistic fashion, Kippenberger talks about the United States:
    "Well, the one and only core of Americans’ identity was film and music, respectively—which, meanwhile, have been lost, been sold to Japan. The USA once again lost everything because they’ve always done everything wrong. First they got themselves the Bubus, then, destroyed the red Indians, lost a war here and there, fought against each other, lost again, hostage liberation: crashed into each other’s helicopters, and so on. Now they are hanging around in the Gulf in order to distract whoever. The only things which were left clean were football and the entertainment industries, only that these things are lame by now and Michael Jackson belongs to Japan. So they sold their whole identity. And in order to divert themselves, maybe to come up with some “new” identity too, they just bought Jaguar, a British company, which indeed has no business being in America. The mere design is so very inappropriate for the USA. These are all interplays that don’t have anything to do with any tradition. There they are, celebrating independence from England, and, on exactly that day, they buy Jaquar. It’s all rubbish, really, what they do. This is another reason why I had to go [from New York] to L.A.: to check this out even more,"
    (Ibid, p. 311).


New York zum Russisch Abbinden (NYZRA)


Oil and silicone on canvas in four panels.

60 1/4 x 72 in. (153 x 183 cm) overall.

$400,000 - 500,000 

Contemporary Art Part I

14 May 2009, 7pm
New York