Martin Kippenberger - Carte Blanche New York Sunday, November 7, 2010 | Phillips

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  • Exhibited

    Claudia Skoda, Berlin; Micheal Geisler, Berlin; Art Concepts, Silvia Menzel, Berlin

  • Catalogue Essay

    Martin Kippenberger was, in many ways, a jester, an ever-evolving provocateur. Widely regarded as one of the most talented artists of his generation,his work is just as much a reflection of his dizzying personality as it is of his artistic abilities. A notorious enfant terrible, Kippy, as he liked to call himself, epitomized the mantra of live fast and die young. He experimented with every kind of art — film, sculpture, installations, prints, painting and drawing — and took advantage of everything life had to offer. Kippenberger was a wild and integral part of the Berlin underground scene that was developing in the  late 1970s and, until his death in 1997, was a masterful critic, absorbing, transforming and challenging everything from art and politics to his own life.
    The present work is a surprising double portrait completed when Kippenberger was only twentythree. The avant-garde Berlin designer, Claudia Skoda, was a close friend and, like Kippenberger, played a significant part in the new world of art and fashion developing in the late 70s. Known as the Queen of Knits, or the Fashion Queen of Berlin, she asked Kippenberger to design the invitation to her 1976 fashion show at the Ateliers Fabrikneu in the Kreuzberg district. The drawing that resulted appears, at first glance, to be a typical playing card (fig 1) in which the images mirror one another. It takes a second, longer look to realize that Kippenberger has morphed Skoda’s visage into his own, depicting himself as her transgendered reflection. In true Kippenberger fashion, not only has he reinvented his image in this “self” portrait but his name as well. The drawing is signed both KIP’MBトRGA (a name he coined during his time in Florence in 1976) and KIPヨN DE BERJノ. The mischievous rendering and name play are clever, playful and oddly charming, much like the artist. He has hijacked a portrait and transformed it into a mirror image of himself. The reflection is classic Kippy: a narcissist with a famously large ego, a sharp eye and an acerbic wit who enjoyed nothing more than provoking a reaction from his audience. He succeeds.
    No genre is more suited to Kippenberger’s personality than self-portraiture, and this drawing anticipates his pervasive interest in the genre from the 1980s. He uses multiple personas to reveal his larger-than-life personality. Among them we find a woman (in the present work), a middle-aged overweight Picasso in white underwear, and his alterego Fred the Frog. The result is often unflattering: for an egotist, Kippenberger spares himself no vanity. He turns the same appropriating and critical eye inward that he turned on the world. Nothing is left unexplored, in art as in life, and the outcome is an alternating combination of humor and pathos. He burned bright with excess during his short lifetime and left behind a brilliant body of work that offers us a staggering glimpse into the mind of one of Germany’s true artistic wünderkind.



Drawn in 1976
Graphite on two sheets of paper.
18 1/8 x 23 1/4 in. (46 x 59.1 cm).

Signed ‘KIPON DE BERJE’ (on the top sheet) and ‘KIP’MBARGA’ (on the bottom sheet).

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $722,500

Carte Blanche

8 November 2010  6pm
New York