Martin Kippenberger - Contemporary Art Evening London Thursday, February 11, 2010 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin; Galerie Wewerka, Berlin; Private Collection, New York; Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin

  • Catalogue Essay

    Often referred to as the enfant terrible of his generation, Kippenberger’s diverse approach to painting, together with his unique artistic twists and turns has influenced the contemporary art scene and artists working today, both in content and form. Although it has been a dozen years since his untimely death, the artist’s iconoclastic attitude to painting has kept his spirit very much alive. His oeuvre has been recognised for its formal merits and artistic relevance – Kippenberger is one of the icons of his time. As a post-war child of a country coming to terms with its past, Kippenberger became best known for his large-scale canvases covered with thickly applied paint that frequently confronted his viewers with juxtapositions of motifs and ambiguous titles. His works often took on a humorous and ironic approach, trying to deal with a collective past which would otherwise overshadow the physical substance of his art at the time of its execution. Kippenberger’s paintings have quoted, mocked and comically blended traditional composition and formal arrangement with vibrant colours and unique perspective. His personal exploration as artist helped him to produce paintings influenced by photorealism and impasto-laden figuration to quirky, architecturally inspired abstraction, Euro-Pop and paintings with unconventional media.
    Throughout the 1980s, Kippenberger’s artwork underwent periods of strong political reflection. Using stark imagery and appropriating symbols from everyday life, the present lot, painted in 1984, seems to depict a ballot box, a table with a small hatch at the top in which voters can cast their vote into a cubic receptacle. The painting’s desolate feel and overbearing use of the colour red, however, conjures up feelings of Communist East Germany. The sparse accommodations we witness in the painting, combined with the muted colours and pseudo-futuristic architecture of the interior scene, all suggest the way of life in Communist-occupied East Germany. As an artist living in what was then West Germany, the perspective Kippenberger took is one that enunciates the stark truth behind that period of history. Using his quintessential deadpan humour, Kippenberger playfully undermines the Communist dictatorial regime which, instead of holding free and open elections, the party repressed any political opposition instead.
    Kippenberger’s refusal to adopt a specific style and medium in which to disseminate his images resulted in an extremely prolific and varied oeuvre which includes an amalgam of sculpture, paintings, works on paper, photographs, installations, prints and ephemera. For Kippenberger there were no boundaries; his artistic understanding and the execution of his ideas were as complex as his visual lexicon and each product of his enormously productive lifetime stands as evidence of his genius.
    “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 knowing more 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’, in exhibition catalogue, The Problem Perspective, Cambridge, 2008, p. 40)


Antikriegsmuseum – Befehl im Museum für unnötige Kriegsforschung

Oil on canvas.
159.7 × 133.7 cm (62 7/8 × 52 5/8 in).

£250,000 - 350,000 

Sold for £241,250

Contemporary Art Evening

12 Feb 2010