Martin Kippenberger - Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale New York Wednesday, March 6, 2013 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    David Zwirner, New York
    Zwirner & Wirth, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    “ I’m not interested in provoking people, but only in trying to be consoling.”

    Martin Kippenberger’s relatively brief yet thunderous career forged a pathway unprecedented in the realm of eastern European art. Kippenberger’s intent to avoid stylistic simplification not only succeeded, but it made his work unequaled in diversity of medium, message, and complexity. While Gerhard Richter may have laid claim to the aesthetic throne of German contemporary art, Kippenberger’s ambitions were never for dominion or beauty; his position as the most prominent member of a German enfants terrible gave birth to sculptures and paintings loaded with both political and compositional innovation. Yet, Kippenberger’s work can just as easily eschew the tangle of contemporary politics and stand on its own, exemplied in the present lot, Leiden Warum, Leiden Wozu (Suffer Why, Suffer What For), 1982. Here, Kippenberger’s commentary on the nature of creation resounds with the propinquity of life and vigor.

    Covered in blocks of oil paint, Kippenberger’s surface is a pastiche of many influences without being indebted to any singular style. Though his huge swath of crimson bordering black and white may suggest Color Field painting or perhaps the Neo-Plasticism of Mondrian, any effort to categorize Kippenberger would be, of course, in vain. His greatest achievement in the present lot is suggested by the painting’s title, scrawled across its surface in red, blue-green, black and white. Suffer Why, Suffer What For conjures the malaise of the creative artist and the sense of masochism compounded by the pressure of creative production. Yet Kippenberger produces the art and act of suffering in conjuring it this lamentable subject.

    Kippenberger’s early death and rapid rise to international recognition makes him one of the art world’s most tragic losses. Certainly, his many retrospectives, including those at Tate Modern and Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art, cement the importance of his vast and unyielding influence upon contemporary art. Leiden Warum, Leiden Wozu (Suffer Why, Suffer What For), 1982, stands as a crucial testament to his modus operandi, one where the strife of creation is as integral as the artwork itself.


Leiden Warum, Leiden Wozu (Suffer Why, Suffer What For)

oil on canvas
47 x 39 in. (119.4 x 99.1 cm)

$350,000 - 450,000 

Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale

7 March 2013
New York