Martin Kippenberger - Contemporary Art and Design Evening Sale New York Tuesday, March 3, 2015 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Private Collection

  • Catalogue Essay

    “You can't stand yourself next to every picture you paint and explain things. Pictures have to talk for themselves. Mostly the pictures you first set store by are not the interesting pictures. It's the imperfect pictures that go on creating some sort of tension.”
    Martin Kippenberger, 1991

    The present lot, Ego (Selbstporträt), 1996 captures two of Martin Kippenberger’s most iconic motifs: the egg and the artist himself. For Kippenberger the egg plays a crucial and recurring role throughout his artistic career. As a visual device, the egg has been depicted in many forms, as a natural symbol of rebirth and as a human cypher for the artist himself, creating Kippenberg’s alter-ego aptly named the “egg man.” Kippenberger has explained his infatuation with the egg by saying that “in painting you have to be on the lookout: what windfall is still left for you to paint. Justice hasn’t been done to the egg….Warhol already had the banana, So you take a form, it’s always sharp edges, a square, this and this format, the golden selection. An egg is white and flat, how can that turn into a colored picture? If you turn it around this way and that, you’ll come up with something.” (Martin Kippenberger, in D. Baumann,“Interview with Martin Kippenberger,” Martin Kippenberger, London: Tate Modern, 2006, p. 63)

    In the present lot, the artist can be seen in both a state of death and resurrection. The precisely rendered figure lies lifeless beneath the egg’s yellow, yoke center, which also acts as a portal into the center of the egg. The word “EGO,” close in spelling to the word “Egg,” is executed in graphite and can be seen inscribed on the upper arched surface of the white egg shell. The egg, floating on a blue sea, resembles a space capsule returned to earth. Kippenberger is humorously and hauntingly tying the artist’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance to the egg’s traditionally symbolic power of re-birth. In the top quadrant of the composition a small blue biplane flies above, while a dashed line connects the aircraft to the interior chamber of the egg, from where the human form emerges. This “life line” connects the artist to the airborne plane, offering to pull him up from turmoil of birth and death, or to “boost his ego” and take flight up to the safety of salvation. This Selbstporträt is the very essence of Kippenberger’s genius, at once fusing the gravity and the humor of his provocative motifs into a mysterious and suggestive whole.


Ego (Selbstporträt)

colored pencil, ink on paper
11 3/4 x 8 5/8 in. (30 x 22 cm)
Initialed and dated "M.K. 96" lower right.

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $87,500

Contact Specialist
Amanda Stoffel
Head of Evening Sale, Contemporary Art
New York
+ 1 212 940 1261

Meaghan Roddy
Head of Sale, Design
New York
+ 1 212 940 1266

Contemporary Art and Design Evening Sale

New York Auction 3 March 2015 6pm