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

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist

  • Exhibited

    Vienna, Galerie Bleich-Rossi, Die Reise nach Jerusalem, 19 November - 20 December, 1987; Vienna, Galerie Bleich-Rossi, Martin Kippenberger-25 Years, 1 December, 2007-10 January, 2008

  • Literature

    Exhibition catalogue, Galerie Bleich-Rossi, Martin Kippenberger -25 Years, Vienna, 2007 (illustrated on the cover)

  • 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 nearly ten years since his untimely death, the artist’s iconoclastic attitude to painting has kept his spirit very much alive. His oeuvre has been recognized 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 his 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 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.
    The present lot is a small, intimate triptych portrait of Martin Kippenberger’s friend Herr Joszi, a waiter at the renowned Café Glockenspiel in Graz, Austria. Located near the Galerie Bleich-Rossi, Kippenberger often frequented when in towns this Austrian-Hungarian monarchic establishment where the local high society mingled dressed to the nines. Ever the showman, Kippenberger’s larger than life, eccentric personality which inevitably made him the center of attention belied in a deep sense of insecurity and doubt in his ability and place in the world.
    Loosely executed with the immediacy of a sketch, Joszi is represented from the torso up, in three-quarter pose, elegantly dressed in his full dinner jacket, his ‘uniform’ at the Cafe Glockenspiel. In each of the evocative portraits his eyes are depicted using beads giving Joszi a powerful presence, a certain sense of three dimensionality as if he is about to pop out of the portraits. The Biblical scenes in plastic bas-relief adorning each canvas and the golden halo on the central panel executed in a thick resin are perhaps a testament to Herr Joszi’s deep catholic faith. Often depicting his friends, the people he encountered on a daily basis, this triptych portrait is a prime example of Martin Kippenberger’s highly personal oeuvre. The artistic practice of painting one’s peers and contemporaries has a long tradition in art, most famously with the Impressionists, with van Gogh and Manet, the artists working in late 19th century Paris and France. In fact, Der Herr Joszi is very much reminiscent of a suite of paintings, collectively titled L’Arlesienne which van Gogh did of his close friend, café owner Madame Ginoux, Furthering the comparison between Kippenberger and van Gogh, the two genial yet mentally unstable artists share much in common artistically-stylistically and thematically- but most tragically, a premature death at a time when each artist was at the height of his respective powers. Given that Vincent van Gogh is now unanimously recognized as certainly the greatest artist of his generation if not the history of art, it is evident that with time Martin Kippenberger will be bestowed that same honour.
    “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 The Problem Perspective, Cambridge, 2008, p.40)


Der Herr Joszi

Triptych: mixed media on canvas in the artist's frames.
Each: 90 x 75 cm. (35 1/2 x 29 1/2 in).
Signed and dated 'Martin Kippenberger 1987' on the reverse of each canvas.

£350,000 - 500,000 

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

17 Oct 2009