Martin Kippenberger - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Friday, October 16, 2009 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Max Hetzler, Cologne

  • Exhibited

    Graz, Galerie Bleich-Rossi, Martin Kippenberger, 1990; London, Tate Modern, Martin Kippenberger, 8 February-14 May, 2006; Dusseldorf, Kunstsammlung Nordrheinwestfalen K21, Martin Kippenberger, 10 June-10 September, 2006; Vienna, Galerie Bleich-Rossi, Martin Kippenberger-25 Years, 1 December, 2007-10 January, 2008

  • Literature

     Exhibition catalogue, Tate Modern, Martin Kippenberger, London, 2006, p.89 (illustrated); Exhibition catalogue, Galerie Bleich-Rossi, Martin Kippenberger -25 Years, Vienna, 2007, p. 114 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    By the time of his death in 1997, Martin Kippenberger was the leading German artist of his generation, considered painting’s fearless outspoken critic and also its great anti-hero. Unlike a previous generation of artists who, under the influence of Joseph Beuys, viewed the artist as a shamanistic saviour of sorts, Kippenberger’s generation viewed the artist as a symptom of the cyclic regression from Capitalism to Fascism and back again. With respect to the role of the artist as the guardian of utopian or transcendental longings, Kippenberger was neither a pessimist nor an optimist but an existentialist in the truest sense. For him, individuals are free agents in a deterministic and seemingly meaningless universe. Controversial, ironic, bad boy of German contemporary art, Kippenberger experienced all kinds of nicknames, but even when disparaged by the establishment, he continually shaped and influenced its scene.
    The present lot, Big Until Great Hunger, is a large scale, powerfully executed canvas from a body work in which Kippenberger confronted the question of sculpture in a fundamental way. Comprised of oil and silicone on canvas, it is a painted representation of a sculpture from his mid 80s series collectively titled Familie Hunger – a body of work metaphorically representing a starved family. The catalyst for the Familie Hunger series was Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954) in which an artist produces a modernist sculpture with a whole in it and titles it Hunger. A lover of food, especially Italian, the film’s sculpture must have resonated with Kippenberger and he immediately set out to create a body of work around the notion of a hole in a sculpture, literally representing a hole in the stomach and figuratively representing a sense of loss, an emptiness, a fear of not having enough, not having a family, of being alone. With largely autobiographical oeuvre, Kippenberger would famously return a few years later to this theme in his acclaimed Picasso inspired self portrait series in which he represents himself grossly overweight and sadly alone.
    In Big Until Great Hunger, Kippenberger’s nod to modernist abstraction is tempered by the slightly cartoonish usage of clear silicone gel that overlays the whole image. As is Kippenberger’ s custom throughout his oeuvre, Big Until Great Hunger, a somewhat non-sensical title, can be viewed as a mockery of the rigidity of the geometry of modernist sculpture, a subversion of Cubist spatial deconstruction as well as Suprematist compositions. Kippenberger pokes fun at Henry Moore, pokes fun at himself, pokes fun at the art world and the role of the artists in contemporary society. Big Until Great Hunger is a prime example from his consequential, diverse oeuvre that everything and anything had the potential to be a joke for Kippenberger and to be ridiculed in his art.
    ‘A self deprecating start becomes the overture to a monumental practice. By casting a scrutinizing glare at contemporary art practice, and adopting the attitude that all is fair game to be seized upon at any moment as material, the crippling civility of respect was disarmed by Kippenberger. What was regarded as secure and beyond repute could be upended at any moment, not perhaps, by noble gestures but, at least, by welcome useful ones.’ (S. Prina in G. Adriani, Martin Kippenberger; Das 2.Sein, Karlsruhe, 2003, p.162)


Big Until Great Hunger

Oil and silicon on canvas in the artist's frame.
180 x 150 cm. (70 7/8 x 59 in).

£400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for £433,250

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

17 Oct 2009