Martin Kippenberger - 20th C. & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Wednesday, November 13, 2019 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Literature

    Gisela Capitain, Regina Fiorito and Lisa Franzen, eds., Martin Kippenberger Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, Volume Four 1993-1997, Cologne, 2014, no. MK.P 1996.29, p. 267 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    An idiosyncratic melding of figuration and abstraction, Martin Kippenberger’s Untitled, 1996, is imbued with a distinct eccentricity and raw energy quintessential of the artist's celebrated oeuvre. Painted in the penultimate year of Kippenberger’s tragically brief life, the present work combines disparate motifs with floating text passages that coalesce with exquisite lyricism. Executed the same year as his seminal Egg paintings and the Raft of The Medusa portraits, Untitled is emblematic of Kippenberger’s later style, which is at once surreal and elusive, effervescent and vivacious.

    Throughout his practice, Kippenberger utilized a wide range of source material such as stamps, newspaper articles, and postcards. The present work is unique in that Kippenberger sourced both the imagery and text from a single sticker sheet, which was comprised of stickers with different pairs of eyes, exclamations and text passages. Extracted from one foil, the images in Untitled are enlarged, dispersed and layered throughout the composition in a seemingly haphazard manner. The German phrase “Es tut mir so leid” is inscribed across the canvas, translating to “I am very sorry.” Culled from the same source, the teary eyes and text elucidate one another, providing a contextual framework through which we can begin to understand Untitled.

    Beneath these whimsical motifs, a fleshy pink figure emerges from the composition. Adorned with high heels, the body contorts and stretches across the canvas with dynamic vigor. Though the style of shoes points to the figure being a woman, its palpable musculature suggests otherwise. Indeed, there is a precedent for Kippenberger painting men in drag in other compositions. In Eifrau, die man nicht schubladieren kann, painted the same year as the present work, Kippenberger illustrates a male figure from the thighs down, wearing women’s underwear and strappy sandals. A riotous assemblage of figure, text and motifs, Untitled epitomizes the artist’s steadfast refusal to conform to convention, which pervaded until the end of his all-too-short life.

A Discerning Vision Property from an Important Private Collection



signed with the artist's initials and dated "M.K. 96" on the reverse
oil on canvas
46 3/4 x 39 1/4 in. (118.7 x 99.7 cm.)
Painted in 1996.

$350,000 - 450,000 

Sold for $437,500

Contact Specialist
Rebekah Bowling
Head of Day Sale, Afternoon Session
New York
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20th C. & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 13 November 2019